BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – 14-year-old Sarah Pavalko was at the only one at her house when the smoke detectors went off. She went upstairs to see what was going on, and that’s when she remembered what firefighters taught her when she was in first grade.
Sarah hasn’t been inside her house since March 19. It is a day she will never forget.
“The fire was in the room with a board on the window and it was right by the window,” Sarah said.
When the smoke detectors went off, Sarah thought maybe she left a flat iron on, so she went to check it out and quickly realized it was a serious situation.
“I could smell smoke, and I felt the heat so I was like there is something on fire,” Sarah said. “I just kept it shut and went downstairs and got some family memories and the cat and went outside and called 911.”
It was something she was taught to do in elementary school. Feel the door and see if it’s hot and it was. Her sister Hannah said the lesson saved their life and their home.
Sarah’s mother, Maria Pavalko, said her daughter stayed calm the entire time.
“She wasn’t crying. She said mom the house is on fire. I called 911 and they are on their way. I am okay,” said Pavalko.
Hannah was on her way home from classes at YSU and ended up following fire trucks right to her house.
“Sarah is holding my cat and I am like Sarah, the cat running away is not a reason to call 911, and she doesn’t say anything and points over to my window an there are flames shooting out,” Hannah said.
The fire destroyed Hannah’s room. The Pavalko’s say a fault in the electric heater in the bedroom started the fire.
There’s a lot of smoke damage in the house, but the family knows it could have been a lot worse.
Monday, the state fire marshal is giving Sarah an award and the Boardman Trustees are issuing a proclamation recognizing Sarah’s quick thinking.