WILLIAMSTOWN _ A family escaped an early morning house fire on Columbia Avenue Monday, officials said.
The family, whose name was unavailable Monday evening, was able to escape the home safely with their children and two pet chihuahuas, thanks to the proper installation and maintenance of smoke detectors inside the house, said Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Paul Jordan.
The exact number of children in the home at the time of the fire was unavailable Monday evening, but firefighters know they left safely before engines arrived at the scene, Jordan said.
The call came in about the fire at 435 Columbia Ave. at 2:18 a.m. Monday, Jordan said. Because of the family's quick reaction, the fire department was able to respond before the structure was fully engulfed, Jordan said.
The Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department was on the scene by 2:23 a.m., Jordan said. Smoke and fire could be seen from outside the home upon arrival, he said.
There was heavy smoke throughout the large house, but the fire was still contained to the family room setting, Jordan said.
Firefighters entered the house to perform an interior attack, Jordan said. The fire was declared under control 10 minutes later, he said.
Firefighters "were able to bring the fire under control so quickly that, aside from a couple of broken windows, you can barely tell the home was on fire from the outside," Jordan said.
The investigation is still ongoing, but the preliminary reports indicate the cause of the fire may have been an electrical issue in the family room area, Jordan said.
Damage to the house is estimated as "at least $40,000. Probably more," Jordan said.
"Smoke detectors saved these people's lives," said Jordan. "If the fire had been only five minutes more advanced than it was, this would be an entirely different and sadder story," Jordan said.
The proper placement and maintenance of smoke detectors within the home warned the family of the danger in plenty of time to escape, Jordan said. The same early warning allowed the fire department to respond in time to save the house and several of the family's possessions, Jordan said.
The children's belongings, as well as most of the other items outside of the family room, sustained moderate smoke damage in the fire, Jordan said.
The Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department encourages everyone to use this incident as a reminder to check the conditions of their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, Jordan said.
The eight-degree weather slowed the progress of the investigation throughout the early morning hours, Jordan said.
Twenty firefighters from the Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department and the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene, Jordan said.