National News

13-year-old saves the day for Olathe family

Posted June 13, 2018 1:42 p.m. EDT

— The skies above Johnson County, Kan. were lit up Tuesday morning by nature's lightning display.

But that lightning display turned into fires at three homes in Overland Park and Olathe.

On West 165th St. in Olathe, it was a 13-year-old girl who was the hero.

Jaya Johnson went into her mom's bed room around 1:40 a.m. Tuesday smelling something odd.

"I was like 'Do you smell that?' Because I started smelling smoke," Jaya said. "I got my phone and we got out of the home immediately."

Jaya saw the smoke coming out of her mother's vent, describing it as grey and black.

The power was knocked out in the other half of the house where Jaya's grandmother lives.

The fire was caught in the family's attic and now much of the insulation is all over the house.

Olathe Fire Department spokesman Mike Hall said electricity can travel through anything that conducts it.

Jaya's mom, Christie Winans, is relieved that Jaya was prepared.

"I heard it but I just rolled over and went back to sleep," said Winans, who was thankful her daughter's baby book made it through the flames. "These are baby pictures, report cards, orthodontist records, a really old volleyball picture."

Teammates, coaches, friends and neighbors all pitched in to help clean up.

"We are really thankful," said Winans, who added an Olathe Firefighter found her a hotel room when many workers were saying they were full for the night.

Jaya said the most important thing is that she and her family are okay.

The family's small dog Cookie made it out as well; her storm anxiety was keeping some of the house awake.

"It's still sinking in that it did happen," said Winans. "I guess we just move forward from here."

NOAA lists the odds of becoming a lighting victim in the US as one in 700,000 each year.