Tyi Hakeem and her two daughters returned to their home on South 10th Street from school Monday afternoon when they saw smoke coming from their duplex.
They ran in and grabbed their two guinea pigs, Shy and Frodo, as the blaze was growing, ultimately eating away the south wall of the living room where the pets were kept, she said.
“I’m just sick,” Hakeem said. “I’m just stunned.”
Here’s a look at the fire from the street pic.twitter.com/d6vcgAHnmq
— Riley Johnson (@LJSRileyJohnson) February 11, 2019
Lincoln Fire and Rescue crews were called to the home in the 1300 block, near B Street, around 4 p.m.
Fire investigator Ken Hilger said the fire was caused by an item on the stove which was left unattended while the children were picked up from school.
The two-story duplex had been the Hakeem family's home since December, the 46-year-old mother said.
As firefighters ventilated the home and smoke poured from her living room wall, Hakeem worried about her neighbor.
He made it out safely, but she was concerned about the damage to his stuff, she said.
American Red Cross representatives were called to help the affected families relocate.
Damages are estimated at about $170,000, according to Hilger. The occupants did not have renters' insurance.
The fire, which started shortly before rush hour, rerouted northbound traffic.