AVENEL, N.J. (WCBS/CNN) - A 6-year-old New Jersey girl who had just learned about fire safety at school is being called a hero after she saved her parents and younger brother from an early morning house fire.
Madalyn Karlbon, 6, and the rest of her family were asleep early Sunday when a fire broke out on the stove top in the first-floor kitchen of the Avenel, New Jersey, home. Officials say her mother fell asleep watching TV, and something was cooking on the stove.
The 6-year-old immediately ran to wake her parents.
"I smelled the smoke, and I heard the fire alarm," Madalyn said. "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’s father, James Karlbon is an ex-fire chief and firefighter for 17 years. He says he didn’t even hear the smoke detectors going off.
"I heard my daughter screaming that there’s a fire, so, I jumped out of bed and realized the house is full of smoke already. I'm used to always going in, not running out," Karlbon said.
No one but Madalyn woke up to the sound.
"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 girl’s mother said.
Thanks to Madalyn’s warning, everyone – herself, her mom, dad and 2-year-old brother Hunter – made it out of the house safely. The first grader had just learned about fire safety at school. When asked if she feels like a hero, she said yes.
The blaze was contained to the kitchen and part of the dining room, but the house is uninhabitable due to soot and smoke damage. The insurance company is expected to visit the home Tuesday.
Right now, the family is just thankful for the 6-year-old’s quick-thinking.
"She saved our lives. Without her, I probably wouldn't be alive today," Karlbon said.
The fire department is collecting clothing and food donations to help the family as they try to recover from the fire.