Updated: 05/12/2014 8:07 AM
Created: 05/11/2014 9:17 PM KSTP.com
By: Jay Kolls
She squeezed through a small window to escape the flames, but five of her six small dogs died in a St. Paul house fire Sunday morning.
Darlene Centeno was awakened by a smoke alarm outside her basement window on the 900 block of Tuscarora Avenue. Heavy smoke and flames prevented her from opening her bedroom door, and she was forced to break open a basement window.
It was Centeno's only way out through a one-foot-by-two-foot window. She made it out alive, but her pets, except one, did not make it out safely.
Centeno tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS she is "grateful firefighters got here so quickly and were able to save one of my dogs. I am very grateful." Centeno says she was the only one home at the time of the fire Sunday morning after family members went to church.
She says she had to crawl back into her bedroom through the same small window to retrieve her cell phone to call 911. The 22-year-old just graduated St. Mary's University, in Winona, on Saturday. She says this was not the Mother's Day she planned but is happy it didn't end any worse.
Fire investigators think the fire started in the basement when someone left smoking materials, still lighted, in the bathroom. Investigators say Centeno's bedroom does not meet safety code because its windows are too small. However, they said she had an operating smoke detector that probably saved her life.