Little hero lauded

Published: March 15, 2007 | 5773rd good news item since 2003

The Lake Ridge Fire Department honored Joshua Higgason, 5, at the firehouse Monday, awarding him a plaque, a fire hat, a toy firetruck and other goodies befitting a hero.

Joshua is credited with saving the lives of his mother, Sherry Klut, and brother Jason, 15 months, the morning of Jan. 29 when a fire started in their home on Roosevelt Place.

Joshua had gotten up around 9 a.m. to go to the bathroom, he told firefighters, “and I smelled smoke.”

“He ran into my room,” Klut remembered. “And he woke me up and said, ‘Mom, I smell smoke.'”

She immediately ran to where her son Jason was sleeping, and “smoke was everywhere.”

The fire started in the room where her daughters Brittany, 15, and Nikole, 12, slept; both girls had already gone to school. Klut had a few heart-stopping moments before she got Jason and Joshua to the porch, she said. Jason was particularly slow to wake up, causing her to fear the worst, but once the family got out into the cool morning air he was awake and alert again, she said.

Firefighters arrived and were able to get the situation under control in about 10 minutes, Lake Ridge Fire Investigator Marshall Meese said. However, the girls’ bedroom was a total loss.

“We lost our clothes, we lost our furniture,” Brittany said. “We lost our TVs, we lost our radios.” The fire was accidental, Meese said, caused by a hair-straightening iron that had been left plugged in and unattended in the girls’ room.

But the family already has received an outpouring of support from the community and from Lake Ridge schools, even though they had only lived in the Roosevelt home seven months.

“People have been stopping by the house with money, with clothes,” said Klut, who has been staying with her mother in Hammond since the fire. “The community has just been amazing. I’d like to thank everyone.”

And Joshua got a thank you Monday from the firefighters, who found it amazing that a 5-year-old could keep such a cool head and know just what to do.

“There’s been four fatalities since I’ve been here,” said Meese, who has been with the department 16 years. “Three children and one adult. There’s no question” that Joshua saved lives.

In particular he saved his brother, Meese said, since Jason’s room was so close to the fire, and the baby easily could have died from smoke inhalation.

“If he hadn’t been awake, I don’t know what would have happened,” Meese said.

Published in Heroes, Kids & Teens
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