As little Kaleb Brawley and his father Justin Brawley walked through the ashes of their former home, the 4-year-old had one particular concern.
"All my toys," he said.
His talking stuffed animals, play set and balls all were destroyed in a massive fire that quickly spread through the house Sunday night. Today, the stench of the burned home was strong and water that doused the flames still dripped from the ceiling. Almost all of the family’s personal belongings were destroyed.
"It’s still kind of surreal to me," said Justin Brawley. "I moved here when I was in sixth grade. This was my entire life here."
Despite the material losses, he said because of the quick thinking of his son, everyone inside the house, including the boy's mother, father and two dogs, made it out OK.
Brawley and Kaleb were sitting in the living room watching their usual late night Nickelodeon
show at 11 p.m. Sunday.
"And [Kaleb] gets up and walks into the dining room, and I guess he saw the flames from the deck," Brawley said. "He comes tearing through the living room screaming, 'Fire, fire, fire!'"
“I told my mom and daddy to get out of the house,” Kaleb said.
“My mother’s coming in saying, 'I need my purse, I need my purse,'” said Brawley. “Kaleb’s pulling on the back of her shirt saying, 'We need to get out mom mom. We need to leave. We need to leave.'"
Brawley said initially he smelled smoke but didn’t think anything of it because the grill was on out back and the neighbor had his fireplace going. Had it not been for Kaleb’s quick thinking, the outcome could have been a lot worse.
The fire started after a burning ember from the grill blew off and lit the leaves under the deck, Brawley said. Quickly, the entire deck was engulfed.
“I wish I could have my house back,” Kaleb said Wednesday.
Now people are calling him a hero.
“It’s one of the one gleaming part in this," Brawley said. "It makes me proud, real proud. About the only training he’s ever had with fire is camp fires."
The family is staying in hotel. Brawley said the insurance company will rebuild the home.