9-year-old boy alerts family to Christmas morning fire

Fond du Lac fire crews are calling the boy a hero
Posted at 7:10 AM, Dec 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-26 23:44:59-05


A Fond du Lac boy is being called a hero tonight after waking his family up on Christmas morning as smoke filled their home. Today NBC26 spoke with the 9-year-old boy about the scary event and shares his story.

Like many place across the country it was hard for kids in Fond du Lac to get some proper shut eye on Christmas Eve.

"It's hard to sleep on Christmas Eve because you can't wait for Santa to come," says 9-year-old Zevin Jelic of Fond du Lac.

Fortunately Zevin was awake on the living room couch. Unfortunately a small fire had started in the lower floor.

"It was coming from the basement," Zevin says describing where the billows of smoke were coming from.

"My son ran into the room saying he saw smoke everywhere," adds Zevin’s father Keven Jelic. Keven says he found a smoldering fire in the basement but it was mostly just smoke and no flames.

The family of three got out of the home immediately and called 9-1-1.

"He did everything that we asked of him. Get out of the house, get everybody else out of the house and call us," says Capt. Joe Maramonte of the Fond Du Lac Fire Department.

And while no one was injured in the fire and there was just minimal damage done to the home, firefighters know that this situation could have been a whole lot worst.

"It was a matter of 10-15-20 minutes maybe and we would be talking about a tragedy instead of a 9-year-old hero," adds Capt. Maramonte.

"Well it could have been worse. It could have been way worse. There could have been a bunch of flames over there," adds Zevin pointing at the outside corner of his home.

We now know that the smoke detectors in the home were not working according to the fire department.

"In this case there weren't smoke detectors in the basement or on the first floor," says Capt. Maramonte.

The one in the basement was recently emptied of its batteries following a welding project according to Keven Jelic.

"I didn't realize at the time that that wasn't put back in," says Jelic.

But thanks to the quick reaction of a young man everyone is safe tonight. And a community is hearing a timely reminder about making sure smoke detectors at your home are working properly.

The Fond Du Lac Fire Department says to give them a call if you would like resources to make sure your smoke detectors are working properly. They also would like to remind families that they should have an escape plan already figured out just in case your family ever deals with a fire.


Original Story...

FOND DU LAC -- Fond du Lac fire officials are calling a 9-year-old boy a hero after he alerted his family to a fire early Christmas morning.

It happened around 3:19 a.m. Sunday morning at a home in the 400 block of South Park Avenue.

When Fond du Lac fire crews arrived, they found smoke coming from the first rear door of a two story duplex. 

People lived on both floors of the duplex, however the upstairs tenants were not home at the time.

Fire officials say a 9-year-old boy was sleeping on the first floor living room couch when he saw smoke. He then quickly told his parents of the fire and all three of them were able to get out safely.

According to officials, there were no working smoke detectors in the basement or first floor of the duplex.

“This could have been disastrous situation if the 9-year-old had not awakened” stated Assistant Chief Steve Beer.  “I would consider him a true hero in this situation.”

Firefighters say it's another reminder to make sure your home or business has working smoke detectors. 

The fire was quickly contained to where it started in the basement. Crews were on the scene for about an hour and a half.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation at this time.

Fond du Lac fire crews say they will be in the area to talk to people about the importance of having a working smoke detector.