Three Red Oak residents were able to escape their home after a fire broke out early Friday morning but were not able to avoid over $400,000 in damages.

Emergency responders were dispatched at 2:31 a.m. to the 100 block of Saddle Horn Lane.

“The homeowners woke up and saw they had smoke in the house. They noticed that smoke was in several rooms of the house and could hear what they thought was something falling from the roof or the attic,” Red Oak Fire Chief Eric Thompson said. “They called 9-1-1 and got out of the house. There was a handicapped person in the home. It took a little time for them to get out of the house but they were out without incident before we got there and were waiting for us.”

Thompson stated that when crews arrived on scene there was light to moderate smoke coming out of the roof and fire coming out from around the chimney. Firefighters started an interior attack, but conditions deteriorated and were quickly forced out of the structure.

“There was a lot of fire that was concealed in attic spaces and the plywood decking up in the attic created some access challenges. It (the fire) wasn’t visible from the outside, but it very quickly came through the roof,” Thompson explained. “When it came through the roof that is when we changed from offensive to defensive mode. We put an additional alarm on it to bring more help just because it was a pretty labor-intensive incident and with the weather being so cold we brought in some extra resources.”

Providing assistance on the call were members of the Waxahachie, Ovilla, Glenn Heights, Midlothian, DeSoto, and Lancaster Fire Departments. Ennis firefighters filled in at Red Oak’s fire station to answer incoming calls. Members of the American Red Cross provided assistance to firefighters, and Oncor disconnected the utilities from the structure. Firefighters and residents reported no injuries.

Thompson stated that residents were receiving assistance from family members in the area. Units cleared the scene and returned to the station at about 7:30 a.m.

“The Ellis County Fire Marshal came out and investigated and determined the cause and origin to be around the fireplace,” Thompson recalled. “The homeowner had been using the fireplace for several days.”

Thompson continued, stating that the fire spread from the fireplace up through the chimney and then spread to the attic. He noted that studs in the wall showed charring. Damage to the property and content loss is estimated at about $420,000.

Thompson advises that before a fireplace is used to have it inspected by a professional and swept by a chimney sweep annually. The area around the fireplace needs to be clear and free of debris.