GR Firefighters Honor Teen For Quick Response During House Fire

Posted at 9:15 PM, Feb 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-26 22:50:59-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.–The home at 311 Marcella in Grand Rapids is now burned up and abandoned. Damaged toys and broken picture frames are left on the porch.

“Everything was a loss, my room, my clothes and all my teddy bears,” said 14-year-old Mariah Walker of a fire that destroyed her family’s home on Feb. 3.

Material things lost, but thanks to her fast actions that morning, nobody was hurt.

The 8th-grader was upstairs when her cousin alerted her that the home was on fire. Walker quickly made the decision to get them out and call for help.

Dispatch: “911 emergency.”

Walker: “At 311 Marcella, there is a fire at the house.”

Dispatcher: “311 Marcella?”

Walker: “Yes, there was a lighter on the floor and it exploded, now there is a fire on the floor.”

Walker: “We are outside waiting and I’m scared because I have asthma.”

Dispatcher: “Is everyone out of the house okay?”

Walker: “Just me and my cousin. I had to call my mom, she is at work.”

The Grand Rapids Fire Department quickly responded to the address and was able to put out the fire before it got out of control.

“It is never the call you expect to get at work, saying your house is on fire,” said Wendy Jelinek, Mariah Walker’s mother.

She rushed home to find firefighters on the job and the girls safely inside a truck.

“I was proud of her (Mariah) that day,” said Jelinek. “She did the right thing when the fire started. She could have been trapped upstairs and not been able to get out, we’re glad she didn’t panic and used her common sense.”

The teenager’s response that day has earned her the Excellence Award with the Grand Rapids Fire Department. It was presented on Tuesday at the fire station off Leonard NW.

“We certainly want to recognize when people take the right actions because there is so much bad news we want to highlight the good news,” said Grand Rapids Battalion Chief Ron Tennant.

Mariah Walker’s response may be common sense, but it is too often forgotten when faced with panic.

She reminds everyone in case of a fire, leave your belongings, get out, and call for help.

“As quick as you can,” said Walker.

Her family is currently staying with friends until they find a new place.