PLANTATION, Fla. - Plantation volunteer Henry Bernard got a terrifying wake-up call just before 5 a.m. Tuesday.
His smoke detectors were going off, prompting him to jump out of bed to see what was going on.
"Your fight or flight (instinct) kicks in," Bernard said. "(I had to) get everybody out of the house."
He saw heavy smoke under the stairwell and ran upstairs to wake up his young children.
Once he got his family out safely, Bernard hoped that he could put out the fire himself.
He tried to use a fire extinguisher, but the fire was too intense. The entire first floor of his home was engulfed in smoke.
"When it happens to you, it really wakes you up," he said.
Bernard’s family has three cats who also made it out safely, although one needed oxygen after it inhaled too much smoke.
The pets are OK, and so is the family.
As a firefighter, Bernard made sure his home was fireproof, but he said this was a fire wthat he couldn’t prevent. He said he is thankful that his smoke detectors were working and alerted him.
"Smoke alarms, they work," he said. "(When they go off) guess what, you're awake."
Bernard has set up a GoFundMe account.
Copyright 2016 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.