Shelby TownshipOctober 24, 2012
Girl honored by fire chief for sniffing out blaze, saving family
By Brad D. Bates
C & G Staff Writer
SHELBY TOWNSHIP — At last week’s Shelby Township Board of Trustees meeting, acting Fire Chief Jim Swinkowski credited Katarina Wright’s “quick thinking” and “heroic deeds” for saving her and her grandparents from a fire June 17.
“Back in June, her grandparents’ house caught on fire and Katarina, who is 7 years old, woke up out of a sound sleep and noticed something wasn’t right,” Swinkowski said.
“Obviously for any 7-year-old to be scared like that, to wake up in a dark house, she actually got up, went and got her grandfather, went and woke them up, and they all made it out alive and safely.”
But Katarina’s description of what it took to save her family was a little simpler.
“I really thought it was some firecrackers or something outside,” Katarina said of waking up to the smell of the house on fire. “I smelled it and woke up.”
While it was the smell of smoke that alerted the 7-year-old that something was amiss, Swinkowski said those heroic attributes were particularly of note, given her young age.
“Any time a firefighter enters the academy, the first thing we’re taught to do is find children, because when children are scared in this situation, they hide under the covers, hide under the bed, they hide in the closet, because they know, ‘If I close my eyes and wait, the bad things will go away,’” Swinkowski said.
“Well, Katarina didn’t do that. She did very quick thinking and her very quick actions saved the lives of her grandparents and herself.”
Her grandfather, John Horne, who said he and his wife Nancy are grateful for their granddaughter’s cool head, buttressed Swinkowski’s summation of Katarina’s actions.
“It was unbelievable,” John Horne said. “At first I thought maybe she had just heard some fireworks or something, because it was 1:30 in the morning.
“But as soon as she kept grabbing me, pulling my arm, and I sat up and the house was full of smoke, I just grabbed her and we ran out the door. Then I went back in and got Granny, and by then the house was just blazing and filled with black smoke. If it wasn’t for her, we’d all be gone.”
For those actions, Katarina was awarded with the Fire Chief’s Award for Heroic Actions and honored at the Oct. 16 meeting.
- Last 24 Hours
- Last 7 Days
- Last 30 Days
- Local chefs share trade secrets for creating the perfect holiday cookie - Metro Detroit
- Mount Clemens man accused of sexually assaulting daughters - Mount Clemens
- Parks and Rec confirms ITC won’t work on trail until 2014 - West Bloomfield
- Two suspects on loose after robbing Comerica Bank - Clinton Township
- Special needs program receives $10,000 grant for iPads - Hazel Park
- Ferndale introduces 30-minute free parking zones around city - Ferndale
- Man charged for indecent exposure on Hall Road - Utica
- Lieutenant promoted to Deputy Police Chief - St. Clair Shores
- Woman found dead in Warren home - Warren
- Former Birmingham mayor arrested again on meth charges - Birmingham
- Homeowner shoots at home invasion suspect - Harper Woods
- WWTHS graduate killed in Libya remembered - Warren
- Love surrounds local teacher fighting cancer - Warren
- Community rallies for Shelby boy with brain cancer - Shelby Township
- Shelby boy battles rare form of cancer - Shelby Township
- Lions Thanksgiving halftime show spotlights WLC band, cheer teams - Walled Lake
- Macomb Home Depot creates college scholarship in honor of deceased employee - Macomb Township
- East Detroit student dies following pool accident - Eastpointe
- Attorney dies in Harper Avenue crash - St. Clair Shores
- CVHS students to stage production of ‘Hairspray’ - Clinton Township
- Missing woman found dead - West Bloomfield
- Sterling woman hurt in shooting - Sterling Heights
- Christmas comes to the Shores - St. Clair Shores
- County board considers regional water authority proposal - Macomb County
- Shelby boy battles rare form of cancer
- BHS Orchestra selected to perform at Carnegie Hall
- Lions Thanksgiving halftime show spotlights WLC band, cheer teams
- Macomb Home Depot creates college scholarship in honor of deceased employee
- Child prodigy becomes youngest artist exhibited at Park West Gallery
- All in the family
- Christmas Wonderfest brings holiday wonder to Novi