An 11 year old`s late-night snack, while watching TV and surfing the internet with her cousin saved an entire family from a terrible fire. The two youngsters got all the credit in Cottleville Tuesday night, as the fire protection district gave them special commendations for their life-saving actions.
'We got out and within minutes, the whole house was in flames,' said homeowner John Uthoff, who believes his 11 year old great niece and 9 year old grandson prevented an unthinkable tragedy January 28.
'I went to go get a snack and there was smoke everywhere,' said Kylie O`Leary, the 11 year old. She and cousin Austin Uthoff were spending the night with Austin`s grandparents. They stayed up late, which turned out to be a blessing. When Kylie went for that midnight snack, she saw the smoke. Austin smelled it.
'We ran to go wake up Meemaw and Pawpaw,' he said.
He and Kylie knew they needed to get everyone out of the house as fast as possible. They knew to wake up the adults. Then they knew they needed to run outside and call 911 from a cell phone or from a neighbor`s. They knew seconds mattered. And they knew it all because firefighters had visited their schools when they were much younger.
'I went to a place called Safety Town where they taught me,' said Austin.
'I knew I should get everybody out of the house because like they`re my family and I should do that first. I knew if the house were to burn down, I`d be ok if everybody was gonna be out,' said Kylie.
There had been a total of six people inside the home. As soon as they escaped, the house was engulfed. The fire had started in the garage, where there were no smoke detectors. One family member and one friend were sleeping in a bedroom that was separated from the flames by just a wall.
'The difference that Kylie and Austin made in this fire was literally everyone getting out alive versus maybe losing two people,' said Cottleville Fire Protection District Chief Robert Wylie.
John Uthoff knows it`s true. 'If we`d have waited any time at all, I don`t know what would have happened,' he said.
Wylie and members of the board gave Kylie and Austin commendations for their calm, quick actions Tuesday night. They also received a $100 gift certificate from a local pizza place.
Wylie said it was impressive to see young children do the right thing during such chaotic times. He was proud to know how they learned what to do. 'To have this come back is an affirmation that the programs work and that the kids are listening,' he said.
'I feel honored,' said Kylie.
Asked if he was proud of himself, Austin said, 'yep.' He should be.