ARLINGTON -- Nine-year-old Jayme McGrew woke early Oct. 9 to the smell of smoke and the sounds of windows shattering. He quickly realized that his central Arlington home was on fire and that his family needed to get out fast.
"I heard pop, pop, pop," Jayme said, recalling the sound of the windows breaking from the heat of the flames.
His mother, Rana McGrew, said she was frozen in fear as the fire consumed her living room. Fortunately, Jayme knew what he needed to do, she said.
A family friend who had spent the night opened a window in the bedroom where Jayme and his two younger sisters were sleeping. While the parents called 911 for help, Jayme woke up 8-year-old Serenity and 3-year-old Rhea and helped them get out of the burning house.
"I'm extremely proud of him. He had the natural instinct to help out his family," said Jayme's dad, Robert Lipinski.
Last week at a ceremony at City Hall, the Arlington Fire Department recognized Jayme for his "bravery and calmness."
"Jayme is a perfect example of what we want young people to do in an emergency," said Fire Chief Don Crowson, who presented him with a certificate. "We are very, very proud of him."
Jayme, a fourth-grader at Berry Elementary School, took his sisters to a neighbor's house while waiting for firefighters to arrive. He said he knew to get to a safe place from fire drills at school. The Fire Department teaches children to get out and stay out of a burning building as part of its Exit Drills in the Home program.
"I saw the window and it popped out and the fire started spreading out," Jayme said, describing the flames coming from his home.
The family is still repairing damage caused by the fire, which was apparently sparked by a space heater left too close to some furniture, Rana McGrew said. The family's dogs and cats survived, but the children's fish and pet frog did not.
Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578