AVENEL, N.J. (WCBS/CNN/Meredith) -- A 6-year-old New Jersey girl is being called a hero after she saved her family from a house fire.

The little girl’s actions even shocked her fire-fighting dad.

Pictures taken show the damage left behind in the kitchen of the family’s home on Hyatt Street in Avenel, New Jersey.

Early Sunday morning, a fire broke out on the stove top on the first floor. 

The family of four was asleep when it happened. 

Madalyn Karlbon was the first to notice.

“I smelled the smoke and heard the fire alarm,” she said.

The 6-year-old immediately got out of bed and ran to the second floor to wake her parents.

"I was sleeping , then I woke up,” she said. “I went to go downstairs and try to wake up mommy and I called daddy's name."

Her mom had fallen asleep on the first floor watching TV. Fire officials said she was cooking on the stove.

Maddie’s father, James, said his daughter alerted him to the fire.

“I heard my daughter screaming ‘there’s a fire, there’s a fire’ so I jumped out of bed and realized the house is full of smoke already,” James said. “I’m used to going in, not running out.”

James, an ex-fire chief and firefighter for 17 years, said he didn’t even hear the smoke detectors going off.

No one heard them, but Maddie.

The 1st grader had just learned about fire safety. 

Although the fire was contained to the kitchen and part of the dining room, the home is currently uninhabitable due to soot and smoke damage. When the family can move back in and start making repairs is unclear, but the insurance company plans to stop by the house Tuesday. 

However, the family is just thankful for Maddie’s quick thinking.

"She saved our lives without her I probably wouldn't be alive today," James said.

The family is receiving help as they recover from the fire. The area fire department is collecting clothing and food donations for them.


Copyright 2020 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

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