AVENEL, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A little girl in Middlesex County is being credited with saving her family’s life following an early morning fire.
The pictures show the damage left behind in the kitchen of a home on Hyatt Street in Avenel. Early Sunday, just before 2:30 a.m., a fire broke out on the stove top on the first floor.
The family of four was asleep.
“I smelled the smoke and I heard the fire alarm,” 6-year-old Madalyn told CBS2’s Alice Gainer on Monday.
The little girl immediately ran out of bed on the second floor to wake her parents.
“I was sleeping. Then I woke up. I went to go downstairs and try to wake up mommy and I called daddy’s name,” Madalyn said.
Her mother had fallen asleep on the first floor watching television and fire officials said something was cooking on the stove.
“I heard my daughter screaming, ‘There’s a fire! There’s a fire!’ So I jumped out of bed and when I realized the house is full of smoke already,” James Karlbon said. “I’m used to always going in, not running out.”
Karlbon, an ex-fire chief and a firefighter for 17 years, said he didn’t even hear the smoke detectors going off.
No one by Madalyn did.
“I don’t even hear the fire pager go off when he gets a call in the middle of the night. I’m so used to it and adjusted,” the mother said.
“I’m smiling because I just taught Madalyn at the school down the street,” her father said.
The first grader had just learned about fire safety.
When asked if she feels like a hero, Madalyn said, “Yes.”
Though the blaze was contained to the kitchen and part of the dining room, the home is uninhabitable due to soot and smoke damage.
As for when the family might be able to get back inside the home and start making repairs, it’s unclear. The insurance company is expected to be at the house on Tuesday, Gainer reported.
Right now, the family is just thankful for Madalyn’s quick thinking.
“She’s my angel. She makes me so proud every day,” her mother said.
“She saved our lives. Without her I probably wouldn’t be alive today,” her father said.
Her mom, her dad and 2-year-old brother Hunter are forever grateful.
The fire department is asking for clothing and food donations. They can be dropped off at the fire house.