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Dubuque man, daughter credited with saving neighbors from fire

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DUBUQUE (TH MEDIA) -

A Dubuque man and his 11-year-old daughter teamed up to save their neighbors from a fire, according to Dubuque Fire Department officials.

Joshua Hentges was watching television with his family Monday evening when his daughter, Natalee, noticed flames coming from a home across the street. Natalee immediately told her parents, who initially were skeptical.

"We thought she was joking or just looking at something different," Hentges said Tuesday.

But then Hentges' wife noticed the flames.

"I just ran out the door," Hentges said. "I didn't even put a shirt on. I didn't even think twice."

Hentges said he knocked on the door at the home at 2635 New Haven St. When there was no answer, he tried the handle and found it unlocked.

Hentges started checking bedrooms for the home's resident and her young daughter. He said he found them in the room in which the fire started.

An unattended candle had set fire to the curtains in a bedroom window, according to firefighters. Hentges said the room was filled with smoke and burning curtains were "dripping fire" onto the floor.

Hentges grabbed the child and carried her from the home. He returned to the bedroom and woke the sleeping woman, who attempted to smother the fire, Hentges said.

"If I wouldn't have been there, that room would have been up in flames," he said.

Firefighters arrived on scene at 7:48 p.m. and extinguished a small fire. The damage mostly was confined to the window, according to Fire Marshal Mark Burkle.

Burkle said Natalee should be commended for alerting nearby adults to the fire.

"We try to promote that in the school -- fire safety and doing the right thing," Burkle said.

Burkle said kids are encouraged to "do exactly what she did. She noticed something was wrong. She contacted an adult, and they took care of it."

Candles are among the most common causes of home fires, according to Burkle. Those who choose to burn candles should keep them at least 12 inches away from objects that can burn, should keep them in secure holders and should not burn them in rooms in which the occupants could fall asleep.

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