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Smoke alarms help man, child escape apartment blaze

Cat blamed for tipping over heat lamp, starting fire

Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue firefighters say a working smoke alarm saved the lives of two Beaverton residents early Tuesday when a futon in their apartment caught fire.

Nick Wohlmut, 20, and a 3-month-old child escaped injury at about 7 a.m. when the blaze triggered a smoke alarm in their second-floor apartment at the Beaverton Glen complex, 13590 S.W. Electric St.

Wohlmut said he woke to the sound of the alarm and found a futon on fire in the apartment's living room. He rushed to the bedroom and grabbed the child and ran from the building.

Firefighters found heavy fire coming from the living room window. They quickly attacked the flames and were able to bring the blaze under control in about 10 minutes.

Firefighters also rescued and revived an unconscious cat.

The fire and smoke damage was confined to one apartment, with some water damage to an apartment below.

Damages are estimated at $25,000.

Investigators said the cat apparently knocked over a cage with a new pet iguana and a heat lamp used to keep the reptile warm. The heat lamp ignited the futon mattress.

The iguana is still missing.

Fire Investigator John Wolff said,

'Had this apartment not had working smoke alarms, the fire would have quickly grown and cut off Mr. Wohlmut's escape route,' said district fire investigator John Wolff.

Wohlmut said he was happy that smoke alarms worked.

'Get them, keep them,' he said. 'And make sure they have batteries.'