WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WECT) - A home in Wrightsville Beach caught fire early Monday morning, and investigators said newspaper carriers helped save the lives of the people inside.
The fire began around 5:30 AM. Fire officials believe a couch outside the home caught fire and later set off propane tanks. Once that happened, the entire house quickly went up in flames.
"A matter of three minutes, the house was on fire," said Todd Anderson, who survived the blaze. "It went from an outside fire to the entire house being on fire in a matter of 20 to 30 seconds."
Two newspaper couriers spotted the flames.
"I ran up the stairs and began to beat on the door," said newspaper carrier John Butler. "Nobody came to the door. I ran downstairs and I was kicking on that door. My wife ran next door."
Investigators said the Butlers' quick thinking was likely the difference between life and death.
"They only had a matter of minutes to escape the home once they were woken up, so it's quite possible by alerting them to the fire that they saved some of their lives," said Wrightsville Beach Fire Chief Frank Smith.
"If those people hadn't have been on the street at that exact minute this would be a different story," said Anderson. "Those people saved our lives."
The Butlers said the firefighters and police officers are the real heroes, and they're just glad they were able to help by being in the right place at the right time.
All five people who were in the home got out safely, but one of their dogs did not survive. New Hanover County Fire Marshall David Heath said the residents are lucky to be alive.
Fire officials determined the cause of the fire was accidental, but they will not be able to pinpoint exactly what started the blaze because of the amount of damage.
Donations for the Henderson Street Fire Account can be made at any Suntrust Bank.