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Teen hero wakes neighbors after lightning sparks Raleigh apartment fire

Posted April 10, 2015

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— A 13-year-old girl was the hero of her Courtney Place neighbors Friday after she took it upon herself to wake them to the danger of a lightning-sparked fire.

Tom Gildea, who lives nearby, said the lightning strike sounded like an explosion. It woke him out of a sound sleep just after midnight.

"All of a sudden, (there was) this white flash of light. It was an amazing light, and all of a sudden, there was a bam sound," he said. "I can't explain how loud that sound was."

It took about 70 firefighters to extinguish the flames, according to an incident report released by the Raleigh Fire Department. Four units in the two-story complex were engulfed in flames.

"When the first units arrived on scene, most of the roof structure was already involved," Raleigh Assistant Fire Chief Kendall HoCutt said.

While the five residents inside made it out safely, Tealyiah Carter noticed the flames beginning to melt the siding of another nearby building and took it upon herself to warn those who live there.

"I just did what anybody else would do for people," she said.

One woman was taken to a hospital after the fire because of a burn on her foot. She was released late Friday morning. No other injuries were reported.

Red Cross officials were assisting the five people displaced by the blaze.

"This is just devastating," Gildea said. "I feel terrible for the people involved."

3 Comments

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  • Megan Wiseman Apr 11, 2015
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    I would just like to say that as "the woman taken to the hospital with a burn on her foot" there is a lot more to your story than was written here. *I* was the one who was awake when the lightning struck *my* chimney on *my* building, starting the fire. *I* was the one who was banging on my neighbors' doors trying to wake them up and screaming at the top of my lungs that there was a fire. *I* was the one who flagged someone down on the street to get them to call 911 because my cell phone was dead and my power was out due to the fire. My foot got burned by debris while I was rescuing my cats and trying to get the essentials out of the house and into my car in the parking lot. I lost everything I owned in that fire. I was hysterical that night, and am glad I wasn't filmed at that time. However, it is because I was at home and awake that everyone in that building got out alive and unharmed, and I would truly appreciate you giving me credit where credit is due.

  • Shelly Hudson-Baker Apr 11, 2015
    user avatar

    Good for you, young lady :) proud of you for being an excellent role model!!

  • Anne Havisham Apr 10, 2015
    user avatar

    Well done, Ms. Carter! I hope your thoughtfulness and concern for others comes back to you when you want or need it most!