A dog and two young boys are alive tonight thanks to their heroic older sister. Twelve-year-old Elizabeth Mahan kept her cool and got all three to safety as smoke quickly permeated through their Nebraska home.
“The 12-year-old did a magnificent job of getting everybody out,” said Bellevue Fire Battalion Chief Joe Gibilisco. “Just textbook. Perfect.”
Earlier this morning, Elizabeth was home alone with her two younger brothers and their dog while their parents were at work.
“It started getting darker in my room so I was wondering what was happening,” Elizabeth explained. “I looked up, and there was black smoke above me. So I crawled up to the stairs to see what was happening.”
Smoke and flames emerged from the laundry room, so she quickly went upstairs to get her brothers and dog outside.
“I was really scared because I didn’t know if (the fire) would stretch down into my room or stretch down to the stairs so that I wouldn’t be able to get out.”
Thankfully, her composure and quick thinking saved four lives. They ran to a neighbor’s home to call the fire department.
“I have to praise her and thank her for everything she did today,” said her mom, Sara. “She stayed calm, was able to get everybody out and run over to the neighbor’s house before it spread too far.”
Elizabeth has been well-prepared for this kind of emergency.
“The grandfather was an associate with the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department years ago,” said Chief Gibilisco. “He and the father had beat it into their heads that if you have a fire, this is what you’re supposed to do: get everybody out and call 911. That is exactly what she did.”
“All the belongings can be replaced,” said Sara. “That doesn’t matter. I can’t replace my kids. That is the main thing. Teach your kids because you never know what can happen.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation.