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’It hurt my ears that I was screaming:’ 9yo screams saves family from fire

Child’s scream saves family in Norton Shores house fire
Posted at 9:21 PM, Jan 10, 2022

MUSKEGON, Mich. — There’s nothing more that 9-year-old Makaylah Estey misses more than her husky Chief. On Sunday, her parents bought her a gray and white stuffed animal dog, which she clutched tightly during an interview with FOX 17 on Monday.

“The reason why I have the stuffed animal is because my dog died and he looks just like this,” Makaylah said with the dog snuggled in her right arm.

On Tuesday, December 28, a fire broke out at her home in Norton Shores around 9 a.m., which Samantha Leyton — Makaylah’s mom — said began in their dryer.

“I woke up. I heard the dryer because there’s fire going out to the window, to break the window,” Makaylah said. “I hurried up and got up. I went outside screaming for help and then the neighbor came out and called the fire department and police.”

Makaylah also said she screamed for her parents but their room was in the back.

“It hurt my ears that I was screaming by myself,” Makaylah said.

Samantha said she couldn’t hear her. However, as soon as they saw the smoke, they got outside.

“There was just smoke just pouring into our room. So, I ran and woke my husband up and I was like there’s smoke. He got up and we realized that the house was on fire,” Samantha recalled. “So, we tried going in through the slider door and it was like thick black smoke. You couldn’t see 5-feet in front of you.”

Everyone made it outside: Makaylah, Samantha, her husband, and mother-in-law. However, they couldn’t find Chief. They believed he was the one who woke their grandmother up to alert her to the fire.

“We didn’t know where our dog was,” Samantha said with tears in her eyes. She took a long pause before speaking. “But everyone else was OK you know. My mother-in-law is still in the hospital but she’s doing better.”

Samantha applauded her daughter for running outside and screaming. Joe Munson, who’s the fire inspector for the City of Norton Shores, said Makaylah running outside and screaming was life-saving.

“What she did is textbook,” he said during an interview with Fox 17 on Monday afternoon. “She did end up saving everybody in that house that morning.”

Munson said it’s important for parents and guardians to have conversations with kids about what to do in emergency situations. He also recommended closing doors to bedrooms at night, in case a fire does occur.

He said it creates a barrier against the smoke.

“It has proven that it does keep that smoke out of those sleeping areas. If you are to wake up, you should have a home fire escape plan,” Munson added. “Practice it. Sit down with your kids, draw it out, and practice it. Have a meeting spot outside ‘cause that’s one thing we want is if you have a fire in your house, get out, and call 911 from a neighbor’s house.”

He also suggested checking all the smoke detectors in the house on a monthly basis to make sure they’re working. If they’re over 10-years-old, then get new ones.

Samantha said they had detectors but they didn’t go off that morning. Nevertheless, she’s grateful her daughter knew exactly what to do when the fire broke out.

“She knew to get out because one of my biggest fears is she wouldn’t know what to do in a situation. She would’ve just hid. That’s what I would think that she would do,” Samantha said. “But, she was smart enough and brave enough to know that she had to take action and go and get help.”

***Loved one created a GoFundMe for the Samantha and Makaylah’s family. Click here to contribute.***