The three words that could save your life in a house fire

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Three simple words that could save your life in a house fire: shut the door.

"It's extremely important. It's literally life or death," said Shawn Engelman, the James Island deputy fire chief for administration and JIPSD Safety.

Engelman said what you see in the aftermath of house fires, describes how much closing your doors can benefit.

"When you go in that one room where the door was shut, it's a very simple interior hollowed core door, and it prevented massive destruction of that one room," he said

Charleston Fire Chief Michael Julazadeh said an elderly woman in Charleston woke up one morning, opened her bedroom door and saw her house had caught fire in the night.

Julazadeh said that woman woke up safe because her door was closed in the night.

According to, half of home fire deaths happen between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., but it's important to keep your doors closed even if you aren't home.

"If a fire starts in a bedroom it has to have oxygen," said Engelman. "Once a fire burns up the oxygen in that room, it's going to smolder down to where it's not burning anymore. So, by shutting the door, you shut off any oxygen to a fire, and you very well could stop it in that one room."

Engelman said the most common concern he hears is parents asking about leaving their doors open for babies or small children.

"In those cases, I would highly recommend using a baby monitor," Engelman said.

Engelman said he himself has witnessed homes that had one very extensive damage to home, except for the one room where a door was shut.

"I have seen it firsthand," he said."We have gone to houses that have massive damage throughout the house and you go into one or two rooms where the door was shut and there's nothing. In some cases, you can't even tell there's a fire. If you shut the door and look back around you wouldn't know the rest of the house had burned."

That's why Engelman said it's important to use the one tool you don't have to go out and buy to try and safe your life during a fire.

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