Family encourages community members to prepare for a fire

Austin Sloop awoke to the sound of crackling at 2 a.m. on Oct. 23. At first, the 17-year-old from West Linn thought his neighbors were having a bonfire. But when he opened the window, he saw an orange SUBMITTED - Austin Sloop, 17, of West Linn put out a fire near his family's garage and chicken coop with a fire extinguisher and garden hose.

Sloop, who goes to school at Westside Christian High School in Lake Oswego, ran downstairs and looked out the kitchen window, only to discover 8- to 10-foot flames coming off the backside of his family’s garage and chicken coop on Rosemont Road.

Despite the fact that his parents were out of town — he reacted. He called to his 72-year-old grandfather who was asleep in the house, which in turn awoke his 14-year-old sister. He grabbed the fire extinguisher — one of many in the home — from inside the kitchen and ran outside and attacked the flames.

“It kind of seemed like a third-person experience,” he said. “There was a little bit of fear, but mostly my adrenaline created an automated reaction.”

His quick actions, coupled with his grandfather’s help, put out the fire within about 40 minutes. In the end, the fire burned part of a lean-to chicken coop and its fencing and charred a 10-by-10 foot patch of siding on the garage. The family has yet to assess the monetary SUBMITTED - The fire burnt a 10-by-10 foot patch of siding on the garage and portions of the chicken coop.

“We believe there would have been a different story had he not reacted,” said Austin’s mother, Kelly Sloop. “We could have lost our house, and I do believe that Austin saved the lives of the people in the house.”

Alli Sloop awoke to her brother’s shouting. She opened her windows and saw billowing smoke and the glow of a fire.

“At first I thought, ‘OK mom’s not here,’” she said. “Usually we would expect our dad to be there, but Austin just knew exactly what to do. I’m totally proud of him.”

Sloop emptied the fire extinguisher on the flames, but glowing embers remained. Next, Sloop and his grandfather soaked the embers with water from a garden hose. Once the embers had cooled, the duo removed the garage siding with a crowbar to ensure the fire hadn’t spread into the charred walls.

“I was just kind of reacting,” he said. “I’ve never used a fire extinguisher before — I don’t know if I ever attended a fireman’s seminar as a kid. It was just something I knew how to use.”

Sloop also crawled into the attic to make sure the fire hadn’t gotten into the roof. He said his precautionary actions were guided by the fire at West Linn High School, which occurred on Oct. 8.

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