WATCH: Single mom, kids escape Copper Cliff Trail fire
Lensa Yadassa gassed up the car and parked in the driveway of her Woodbury home for 10 minutes while she fixed dinner. When she returned to the car, ready to drop off her daughter at dance class, it was in flames.
"I opened the car door, and this flame came out," she said.
Her three children, her neighbors and the neighbors' dogs got out of the attached townhouse fire at 5:44 p.m. yesterday (Wednesday, June 8), as Woodbury Public Safety responded to the 2500 block of Copper Cliff Trail. No one was injured.
"Thank God," Yadassa said this morning. "It was so scary. I'm glad it didn't happen when we were in the car. It just exploded. We're all alive. I'm not even going to complain."
Yadassa, a single mother who's lived in the townhouse since 2013, screamed to her children and called 911. Flames spread from the car to the garage; its roof and facade were charred.
"It is believed that a child playing with a lighter inside the vehicle started the vehicle fire that led to damage to the front of the garage," Michelle Okada, Woodbury Public Safety public information officer said in an email.
It wasn't Yadassa's children who lit the fire, Yadassa said, disputing the firefighters' preliminary findings. Her children were all in the house with her at the time of the fire.
Okada said in a statement: "Preliminary information from those on the scene and statements made, lead responders to believe that a child with a lighter may have started the vehicle fire. As always, nothing is official until the investigation is complete."
Firefighters remained at the scene until 9:27 p.m. yesterday, controlling and monitoring the vehicle, which Yadassa said had a full tank of gas when it started on fire.
"It is best to let it burn off," Okada said of the vehicle. "Fire crews did a great job of getting water on the home right away to prevent further damage to the home."
Okada called the damage minor. No interior damage was done to either of the townhouses, and the occupants were able to return to their residences.
Yadassa couldn't sleep last night, and she was working in the garage with ash-covered hands today. Her driver's license and wallet were in the car.
"It's hard. I have to pick up the pieces," Yadassa said.