Persistent Omaha police officers alert deaf couple to house fire; family escapes injury - Omaha.com
Published Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 1:00 am / Updated at 9:28 am
Persistent Omaha police officers alert deaf couple to house fire; family escapes injury

Stephanie Doffin thought she was dreaming.

She awoke to two flashlights shining through her window about 4:45 a.m. Sunday. She went to the front door, where two Omaha police officers told her the house was on fire.

Doffin, 27, and her boyfriend, James Black, 36, are both deaf. They couldn't hear the officers knocking on the door. They had no smoke alarm.

While on patrol, Officer Michael Wright came upon the fire at 1455 S. 14th St. and notified the Fire Department.

Wright and Officer Chithauta Hester helped evacuate the couple, their 10-month-old daughter, Terri Lynn Black, and their cat, as well as other residents in an upstairs apartment.

“We were so scared and worried about what happened,” said Doffin, who is expecting the couple's second child.

Black said he was initially confused by the flashlights. When he saw the fire, he said, “I pushed my family out.”

Damage was contained to the front of the house, and the interior was untouched.

Wright and Hester were not available for comment. But an Omaha fire official said the fire could have been a “much larger problem” had Wright not detected it.

The cause of the fire had not been announced.

As the couple played with their daughter at home Tuesday afternoon, Doffin said she's grateful for the officers' actions.

Black, who paints and drywalls while Doffin stays at home with the baby, has begun saving up money for a three-bedroom trailer.

For now, “I will have to talk to my landlord about a smoke alarm with (a) flash,” Doffin said of the devices modified for the hearing impaired.

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