Neighbor with insomnia smells smoke, helps family out of burning - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Neighbor with insomnia smells smoke, helps family out of burning Finley home

Posted: Updated:
Neighbor Jose Fernandez helped save family Neighbor Jose Fernandez helped save family

KENNEWICK, WA - We now know the cause of a fire that sent a family of four to the hospital this morning.

Benton County Sheriff's deputies say Vitalina Birrueta-Moreno and her three children, all under 10 years old, were sleeping when a candle burning in the master bedroom fell over. 

Medics took all four to Trios Health for treatment of smoke inhalation, but the mother and her two oldest kids have since been taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where they're in the ICU in serious condition.

We're now learning that if it wasn't for a neighbor smelling the smoke, the family might not have made it out at all.

Jose Fernandez told us he couldn't sleep last night because he said he had a bad feeling. His restless night turned out to be a premonition. He was tossing and turning all night in his Finley home.

"I couldn't sleep, I don't know why," Fernandez said. "I had this really, really bad feeling that something was going to happen."

And he was right.

"Out of nowhere I started smelling this burning, this rubber burning," he explained.

That's when he looked outside of his window and saw the fire inside his neighbor's house.

"I didn't even think about changing, nothing," said Fernandez. "I was in my sweats, no shirt, no shoes, and I ran over to the other house."

The 4-year-old ran outside on his own, but Fernandez had to carry out the other two children, and the mom was still inside.

"I know for a fact she was looking for her kids. I know that was obviously her first concern so she was still in the house."

She almost made it out when she fainted in the doorway. Fernandez dragged her body over to his side of the lawn, and waited for fire crews to get there.

"I wouldn't be able to live with my conscience if something would have happened to them," said Fernandez.

It turns out the Birrueta family didn't have a working smoke detector in their home. Fernandez says if they did, they would have without a doubt been able to get out much sooner. 

If you need a smoke detector, you can pick one up at any fire station or Red Cross.


KENNEWICK, WA - Investigators are trying to figure out what started a mobile home fire that sent two people to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. It started on the 203000 Block of East Bowles Road in Kennewick just after 1:00 Wednesday morning.

Firefighters managed to keep the smoke and flames contained to one room. Medics took a mother and her three children to Trios for smoke inhalation, two of them were later transported to Harborview for burns. 

Benton County Fire District #1 tell  NBC Right Now the home didn't have smoke detectors. They want to remind everyone to make sure their homes have some, if you need any you can pick them up at any fire station or the Red Cross.