SAYREVILLE - A Sayreville family escaped a house fire unharmed thanks to the quick thinking of a 12-year-old girl.
A fire started on the second floor of the Jacobsen Street home just before 2 p.m. Monday. Jailyn Holloway says she saw that the front door of her apartment was blocked by flames, so she rushed her adult cousin and three children into the bathroom for safety.
“I thought I was gonna die when the fire happened. I was just worried about the babies,” Holloway says.
The 12-year-old then jumped from the second-floor window, 15 feet down to the ground, to get help. She ran to the front of the house and found Sayreville Officer Brian Gay. He had just tried to go up the stairway but was blocked by flames. Holloway showed him the way to her family.
When he got there, some of the other family members were attempting to jump.
"I'm trying to explain to the little girl in the window -- a ladder is on the way, don't jump. I looked at the people getting the ladder and then looked in the air and she was already jumping,” Officer Gay says. “As she was on her way down I caught her. She hit the ground a little bit, but not too hard."
Officer Gay and some Sayreville firefighters were able to catch the girl in the window, as well as a 2-year-old, a 1-month-old baby, and the adult who was watching them. Miraculously, they all escaped serious injury.
"Everybody was OK. They were transported to their local area hospital for observation,” says Sayreville Fire Chief George Gawron.
Holloway’s mother says that there was a reason why her daughter knew what to do in the fire.
"She took a fire prevention class with the Sayreville Fire Department and they taught her everything. So that's why she did what she did,” says Kristin Nelson
Officials say that two more people were able to escape from the first floor of the home. Firefighters were able to rescue the residents’ cats.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known.