Family Unable to Smell Due to COVID Escape House Fire—Thanks to Teen

A Texas family who lost their sense of smell after contracting COVID-19 were rescued from a house fire on Friday thanks to a teenage girl in the family who smelled burning.

Three members of the same family in Waco, Texas, had caught the coronavirus and experienced a loss of their sense of smell—a condition called anosmia—but 17-year-old Bianca Rivera had not had it.

She alerted her family to the fire, which broke out at around 2 a.m. on Friday morning at their home on Joey Dr. in the city. All four were able to escape the house unhurt as a result of Rivera smelling the smoke.

The blaze at the family home was advanced by the time Waco firefighters arrived at the scene.

"I don't really count myself as a hero," Rivera told KWTX on Friday.

"I would just do whatever anyone else would do for their own family I just wanted to get everyone else safe and alive that's all I wanted that's all I wanted was to keep everyone alive," she said.

Rivera explained that she had smelled something burning in the early hours, and since nobody else in the household could have smelled smoke, the teenager decided to act.

"I started smelling burnt plastic and that's when I got more alert and ran outside of my room and I couldn't even pass the hallway because it was filled with so much smoke," she told KWTX.

"I knew I had to wake everyone up," she said. "I opened the back door and I got everyone out one by one."

STRUCTURE FIRE - 2200 Block of Joey Dr. @WacoTXFire units arriving with a one-story house heavily involved in fire. Exposures threatened.

— Waco Fire Department (@WacoTXFire) January 15, 2021

In addition to rescuing her family, Rivera also brought the four family dogs out of the house to safety.

"Honestly it was just me protecting my family and getting them to save it didn't matter to me if I was going to get hurt or I was going to get burned as long as I got them out safe and sound I was going to be fine," she said.

The house was severely damaged and the family managed to leave with nothing but the clothes they were wearing, according to KWTX. The Red Cross and Rivera's grandparents are helping the family.

"Right now we are renting a motel room we are trying to find a residence at the moment," Rivera said.

Around 80 percent of those who contract COVID-19 also experience a loss of smell that lasts several weeks. However, anosmia caused by other viruses can last for months.

A Firetruck Waits at a Roadblock
File photo: A fire truck waits at a roadblock after a chemical plant explosion in Crosby, Texas on August 31, 2017. Firefighters in Waco, Texas responded to a fire early on Friday morning. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images