5-Year-Old Boy Saves Family From House Fire in Beacon, N.Y.

Matthew Hansen, fire hero
Matthew Hansen, fire hero

A family in Beacon, N.Y., is lucky to be alive after a fire consuming their kitchen (pictured below after the blaze) threatened to consume their home in flames as they slept. The hero who saved them? Their 5-year-old boy.

Matthew Hansen (pictured above) woke around 4 a.m. the day before Thanksgiving, his eyes burning from the "clouds" in his room, the boy told the Poughkeepsie Journal. He couldn't tell in the dark, but they were clouds of black smoke creeping up the staircase and slowly surrounding him and his collection of stuffed animals.

Kitchen of Hansen home
Kitchen of Hansen home

"I need my eyes checked, mommy, I can't see," he called to his parents, Christina and Greg Hansen, who were asleep in their bedroom nearby. They thought Matthew was just being a kid.

"Greg said to him, 'You can't see because it's dark out and you're sleeping,' " Christina Hansen recalled.

But Matthew just knew that wasn't it. He remembered what the fire sergeants taught him at school.

"I felt something, and at school, they told us what to do if your butt is ever on fire," Matthew said. "You stop, drop and roll. You're never supposed to hide, and you're always supposed to call for help. So I called my mom and dad."

Matthew's continued cries finally roused his mom, and when she went to his room to check on him, she saw the smoke. She snatched Matthew out of bed in just his T-shirt and underwear, and whisked him downstairs in her arms and out into the cold night.

"I'm just thinking, 'Get him outside,' but ... I didn't want him to freeze," his mother said.

She ran back inside to get Matthew warm clothes while her husband began throwing water on kitchen cabinets engulfed in flame. She looked up and saw a "pitch black" kitchen covered from floor to ceiling in soot and light bulbs that had melted in their sockets.

Firefighters arrived minutes later. By then, the kitchen was "gutted," Greg Hansen said, and the dining room and bathroom were damaged. It was determined that the electric stove short-circuited and turned on, setting on fire a cupcake pan sitting on top of it.

City of Beacon Fire Administrator Michael Davis told the Poughkeepsie Journal that if the Hansen family had waited even two minutes longer to escape, it would have been too late.

"Many people have died from lack of early detection," Davis said. "This family was two minutes away from that, if not for Matthew waking up. The smoke would have blocked the stairwell."

The little boy's alertness was all the more fortunate because a smoke alarm just outside his bedroom wasn't working.

"The batteries were newly replaced in the detector, but it came with the house. It just didn't work," his father said.

"I have tears in my eyes hearing about this," said Melissa Thompson, board president of the Beacon County School District. "This is a perfect example of all the pieces of the puzzle -- the family, the school, the fire department -- coming together."

The Hansens are now looking forward to repairing their home in time for Christmas -- hopefully.

"It's going to take six years to fix it!" Matthew said. OK, that might be an exaggeration.

"A few weeks," his mother corrected. "Hopefully, we'll have a kitchen for Christmas.

"We're very lucky he woke up," she added.

Other youths who were lucky to escape serious injury recently were:

• Two Atlanta children, 6 and 2, whose mother stands accused of leaving them alone for hours in a cold, dark apartment with a gas oven on -- and it's door wide open. After a security guard happened to find the children, police arrested their mother on cruelty charges. She claimed that she'd only left them for a moment to charge her cell phone.

• A curious 2-year-old New Hampshire boy who climbed into a laundry chute at his home and slipped down 20 feet before a tangle of media cables broke his fall. Firefighters had to rescue the battered and frightened boy by cutting through the cables and plaster.

See also:
Deadly House Explosion Investigated as Homicide
Apartment Fire Safety Tips
Man Killed as Gas Explosion Destroys Connecticut Home

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