PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A Mt. Washington couple and their two kids are safe after fire damaged their home on Penelope Street late Monday afternoon.

Mike Burns, a city arson investigator, said the fire was caused by careless smoking. A cigarette may have smoldered for one or two hours.

Christopher Jones and his family weren’t home when the fire started.

“I got a call from a neighbor,” he told KDKA-TV. “I was standing at the light right before Liberty Tunnels and a couple fire trucks came blowing past me.”

He knew his kids were safe, but he was worried about his pets. A boa constrictor, turtle, tarantula and two cats were removed safely. Firemen gave one of the cats oxygen.

Two neighbors, Ray Conchola and Jeff Jones, saw the smoke coming from the house and went in screaming for people. They also used a garden hose to help douse the flames.

“If we didn’t put the fire out, the chief said that the whole house would’ve went up,” Conchola said.

Deputy Pittsburgh Fire Chief Mike Mullen said it was a risky move to go in because they didn’t have the right equipment.

“It had a good outcome today – it could have quite easily had a bad outcome,” he said.

“They put themselves at grave risk by going into the fire with smoke conditions – the smoke was down to within a foot of the floor.”

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