Nova Scotia

Boy honoured for notifying authorities about New Glasgow fire

Abdullah Almethyb's quick action in calling 911 potentially saved lives and prevented further damage to surrounding buildings as a raging fire quickly engulfed an apartment building in New Glasgow, N.S., recently.

When Abdullah Almethyb called 911, he potentially saved lives and prevented further damage

Abdullah Almethyb was quick to call 911 in the early morning hours of April 30 after he heard loud bangs and saw smoke coming from a nearby building in New Glasgow, N.S. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

It was 12:30 a.m. AT on April 30 when 11-year-old Abdullah Almethyb heard loud bangs and looked out his window to see smoke and flames coming from a nearby apartment building in New Glasgow, N.S.

He didn't see any of the tenants standing outside the building. Without hesitation, Almethyb picked up the phone and dialled 911.

"I always remember [to dial 911]. I never forget it. It's always in my head," he told CBC News on Thursday. 

His quick action potentially saved lives and prevented further damage to surrounding buildings as the raging fire quickly engulfed a 10-unit building on Forbes Street, the local police department said.

Certificates of community service are awarded to people who go above and beyond to help save lives or protect property. (New Glasgow Regional Police)

"Me and my dad and my brother were watching TV. I saw a light — I thought it was a car light," he said. "Then I saw a fire on the roof."  

As the fire burned, Almethyb said he couldn't sleep. Instead, he tried to quell his family's own fears.

"I was really scared," he said. "But then my family were worried that something was going to happen. I tried to make them get calm. Then police and other firefighters came so we felt a little calm."

'Proud' to receive award

To recognize his contribution to the riverside town, New Glasgow Regional Police Chief Stephen Chisholm honoured the Grade 6 student with a certificate of community service.

Police spokesperson Const. Ken MacDonald said he and Chisholm surprised Almethyb at his home on Tuesday.

The 10-unit apartment building on Forbes Street in New Glasgow, N.S., was extensively damaged in the fire on April 30. (New Glasgow Regional Police)

"When we showed up, you could actually see the sense of pride and the smile not only on his face, but his family's faces as well," said MacDonald, adding that the Almethyb family came to the town of roughly 9,500 from Syria.

"I was proud of myself," Almethyb said. "I didn't expect it at all."

MacDonald said the young boy also received a ball cap and tuque emblazoned with the New Glasgow Regional Police logo.

"I wear this every day, even inside," Almethyb said of the tuque. 

Almethyb tugs at his new favourite tuque, courtesy the New Glasgow Regional Police. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

"He was very happy about the acknowledgement," said MacDonald in a phone interview on Wednesday.

"We're still in a time when we had to maintain those physical distances, but the smile on his face was worth it."

The certificates are awarded to community members who go above and beyond to help save lives or protect property, said MacDonald.

By Thursday, the building was demolished. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

The department said 13 people were evacuated from the building, which was extensively damaged. No one was injured, but several pets died.

A news release said a 21-year-old man from Pictou County, N.S., is facing a number of charges in connection with the fire, including arson, assault and uttering threats.


Aly Thomson


Aly Thomson is an award-winning journalist based in Halifax who loves helping the people of her home province tell their stories. She is particularly interested in issues surrounding justice, education and the entertainment industry. You can email her with tips and feedback at

With files from Craig Paisley