Girl, 14, credited with saving siblings’ lives during fire

Massachusetts
fall river fire

A 14-year-old girl is being hailed a hero for her quick thinking after her home went up in flames over the weekend.

Leaders at the Fall River Fire Department say in a matter of minutes, if not seconds, she made all the right decisions and saved her siblings’ lives as flames tore through the Hope Street triple-decker. 

The fire started around 3 a.m. Saturday and amid the scrum of firefighters working to put out the flames could be seen a pile of pillows and blankets on the ground, above which were bed sheets hanging out of a second-story window. 

“They threw the stuff and then jumped after,” recalled Maria Paiva, who lived on the first floor.

Deputy Fire Chief Roger St. Martin said flames in the living room of the second-floor unit woke the girl up and she jumped into action.

“She closed the door, started yelling, got her siblings up,” St. Martin said.

Then, according to fire officials, the girl tied bed sheets together to create a makeshift rope and starting throwing anything soft she could find down on the ground to cushion the landing area.

“She proceeded to have her younger brother and younger sister climb down and then jump the last maybe six or eight feet, and then she herself climbed down out of the window,” St. Martin added.

The fire had separated the children from their parents, who got out using a different exit, according to St. Martin. All five were taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, as well as cuts and bruises.

The home was significantly damaged. However, St. Martin said if it weren’t for the girl’s heroic actions, there could have been a much bigger loss.

“She saved her brother and sister’s life, absolutely. No question in my mind she did,” he said. “They were not going to be able to make it out of that apartment there.”

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