(WMC) - A 9-year-old girl is being hailed a hero after a late snack helped her save neighbors from their burning home.
On Monday night, a family of five returned to their smoke damaged home to pick up a few belongings. They say there might not be anything left if it weren't for a 9-year-old neighbor who called for help when she saw flames.
Gabrielle Jones has always been taught to speak up when she sees something wrong. When she saw flames rip through her neighbor's Whitehaven home, she wasted no time getting help.
"I was going to get a snack out the kitchen saw flames and fire and yelled out 'it's a fire'," said Jones. "My dad thought I was doing a trick so I said 'no, for real it's a fire.'"
The overnight blaze happened in the 1000 block of Haledale, a Whitehaven neighborhood near Elvis Presley Boulevard and Shelby Drive. Marco Anderson says his family has called the house home since 1998, but recently left after they say a transformer caught fire in the backyard and blew out the power in the house.
Anderson asked the neighbors to call when the lights were turned on. They instead called for a very different reason.
"They were calling and we thought the power was back on and the house was on fire," said Anderson.
The Red Cross has put the family up at a hotel, but it is too soon to know if they will ever be able to return. Anderson says there wouldn't even be a chance without Gabrielle.
"I thank her so much. I see her all the time out here," said Anderson. "I just thank her so much, she's very friendly, she's very smart, and I'm so happy she did what she did."
Gabrielle says she was just doing what her parents taught her, to stay calm and make sure you do something right, and is glad her neighbors are safe.
The fire department does recognize people for helping after they verify all of the information in the report. With or without an award, the family says she's still a hero for speaking up about what she saw.
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