6-year-old hero: NJ girl saves family from devastating home fire

AVENEL, New Jersey -- A 6-year-old girl jumped into action and helped save the lives of her family members after a fire broke out in their New Jersey home early Sunday morning.

The Avenel Fire Department said Madalyn Karlbon, the daughter of volunteer firefighter and ex-Avenel fire Chief Jimmy Karlbon, woke up to the sound of an activated smoke detector, saw the smoke and immediately ran to awake her dad and alert him of the fire.

"I remember my daughter screaming, 'Daddy, the house is on fire, the house is on fire,'" Jimmy Karlbon said. "I didn't hear the smoke detectors. I didn't hear nothing. All I heard was, 'The house is on fire.'"

The smoke detector went off just after 2 a.m. at their home on Hyatt Street in Avenel.

Madalyn Karlbon was the only one out of the whole family to wake up, saying the non-stop piercing sound of the fire alarm and smoke burning her eyes and throat woke her up.

"I tried to wake up mommy," the young girl said. "And then I called daddy's name, and daddy woke up Hunter and mommy."

Jimmy Karlbon recalled the experience when he first heard his daughter yell during the fire.

"When she was screaming, I remember waking up and upstairs was full of smoke already," he said. "Couldn't even see where Madalyn even was. I grabbed Hunter. Madalyn was on the stairs. I grabbed Madalyn, put them on the front porch. I said, 'Stay here, where is mommy?' 'Mommy is on the couch.'"

Jimmy Karlbon, his wife, Madalyn and 2-year-old Hunter all made it safely out of the house, fire officials said, but they lost almost all of their belongings inside.

The house was deemed uninhabitable, and the Karlbons have been temporarily relocated to a hotel while the necessary procedures are completed.

"Without any hesitation, she jumped into action and ultimately saved the lives of her family by remembering all she was taught during fire prevention week and through the vast knowledge that her dad and fellow firefighter family has instilled in her," the Avenel Fire Department said in a Facebook post.

And not only did Madalyn save the lives of her mommy and daddy and little brother, but it was because of her quick reaction that firefighters were able to get to her home soon enough to save it from being a total loss.

"Madalyn, it goes without saying how bright and smart of a girl you are," the Facebook post went on to say. "This morning proved that!! You recognized danger immediately and were able to assist in getting everyone out of the house before the fire got worse. To say all of us here at the Avenel Fire Department are so proud of you is an understatement."

If you would like to make a monetary donation to help the family with purchasing groceries, clothes and essential every day toiletries, checks can be made payable to:
THE AVENEL FIRE COMPANY COMMUNITY FUND
346 Avenel St.
Avenel, NJ 07001
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