St. John's fire hero reunited with girls he saved 65 years ago

Ed Malone, who goes by Kip, rescued two young girls from a burning home on Central Street in St. John's in 1951. Now, 65 years later, he has become neighbours with one of them.

Ed 'Kip' Malone moves next door to woman he rescued when he was 12

It's a coincidence that one woman calls a "miracle." After 65 years, Ed Malone has found the two women he saved from a house fire when he was just 12 years old. 3:48

For the better part of seven decades, Ed 'Kip' Malone has wondered what happened to the young sisters he saved from a burning home in 1951.

Malone was just 12 years old, sent for a pound of butter from the store at Christmas time, when he came across a house fire on Central Street in St. John's.

Hearing shouts from the top floor of the home, Malone ran into the building, grabbed two young girls and herded them out the door.

The girls' grandmother died in the fire that gutted the house and left the Earle family — eight children and their parents — homeless.

Ed Malone - who goes by Kip - and Barbara Earle hold hands during an interview with CBC News on Thursday. (CBC)

Last week, Malone was reunited with those girls he saved — Margaret Fowler and Barbara Earle — at his new home in Conception Bay South. 

Without any idea who his neighbours would be, Malone moved into the house beside Fowler in November. It's a reunion the trio says is more than just luck.

"It's a miracle as far as I'm concerned," Fowler told the St. John's Morning Show. "I think it was meant to be. Both of our parents are dead … and gone to heaven, I don't know but it was something happened up in heaven that our parents got us together."

"It's divine intervention," said Earle. "It was meant to be." 

A home still stands at 6 Central St., where Kip Malone saved two sisters from a fire in 1951. (CBC)

Reunited at last

Malone — nicknamed Kip for his love of kippers, or smoked herring — said he spent years wondering what happened to Fowler and Earle, who were five and three years old, respectively, on the day of the fire, Dec. 20, 1951.

"I was only 12 at the time, and I didn't know anything about it, and didn't know anybody to ask. So I just let it go," he said. 

"But I always knew what happened, and wondered. 'I wonder what became of these two children.' And I never did find out."

Malone's life took him to Ontario, but his retirement brought him back home, and into the lives of Fowler and Earle again.

For Malone, that's not the only thing that was divinely inspired. He said God had a hand in the rescue as well.

When he came across the burning home on Central Street, he heard a woman on the third floor yelling for someone to help her children. He says he ran into the smoky building, and up the stairs.

But when he tried to take Fowler out, she wouldn't go, because somewhere, Earle was still stuck inside the home. 
A newspaper clipping from 1951 documented the house fire, and the community's response, including donations from schoolmates of some of the eight children in the Earle family. (CBC)

"She had no idea [where Earle was], and no more did I," Malone said. He searched another room in the house, but couldn't see anything.

"But I knew there was a little girl somewhere," he said. "And so, I think it was the man upstairs that said to me 'sweep your hand under the bed' and I did, and I grabbed the little girl. So now I had two, so out I went." 

'I couldn't get over it'

Neither of the neighbours recognized each other at first. It was only when they got to telling stories that the connection was made.

"When Kip told us that, I couldn't get over it," Fowler said.

"She just looked at me and nearly fainted," Malone added.

Kip Malone poses for a photo with his mother when he was 14. (CBC)

The women said they knew very little about the fire and it was too painful to ask their mother and father for any details.

Earle said she never even knew she had a hero, until she met Malone last week. 

"I feel so blessed," she said. "If it wasn't for Kip, I wouldn't be here today and have the beautiful wonderful life and family that I have.

"How do you thank him, only to say thank you? I mean, there will always be this connection with us. And that I love you. I don't know what else to say."

Kip Malone, Barbara Earle and Margaret Fowler speak on Thursday, almost 65 years after Malone rescued the pair from a burning home. (CBC)

For Malone, the reunion has answered questions he always had about the family that left the neighbourhood after the fire.

"I'm going to have to digest it for a while, because for a lot of years I've wondered what became of the two little girls," he said. "And I've only just found out — two beautiful women with families. So I'm very happy for it."

The group is convinced their reunion is more than just luck.

"It's not just a coincidence," Earle said.

"No, It can't be," Malone added.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show