Thunder Bay

'I'm super proud of her': 8-year-old credited in keeping family safe from house fire

A Nipigon, Ont., woman is crediting her 8-year-old daughter for keeping her entire family safe after a fire tore through their home early Monday morning.

A family of four in Nipigon Ont., are left to rebuild their lives after a fire tore through their home

A family of four in Nipigon Ont., has been left homeless after a fire tore through their home on Monday morning. The home on Wadsworth Drive in the northwestern Ontario town has been completely destroyed by the fire. (Submitted by Riley Lesnick)

A Nipigon, Ont., mother is crediting her 8-year-old daughter for keeping their entire family safe after a fire tore through their home early Monday morning.

Riley Lesnick said she awoke to her daughter calling out for help after the 8-year-old had discovered her bedroom was filled with smoke around 4:30 a.m. on January 4, 2021.

"As I ran to her room and opened her door, she ended up collapsing on the floor because there was so much smoke in the room," said Lesnick in an interview with CBC.

Lesnick said herself, her three children, and the family dog were able to safely escape the home before it became engulfed by flames. She said the smoke alarm in the home went off shortly after her daughter woke up the house. 

The family was taken to hospital where Lesnick's daughter, Haylee, was treated for smoke inhalation.

Riley Lesnick and her three children were able to escape safely as a fire began to engulf their house Monday. Lesnick credits her 8-year-old daughter, Haylee, for saving the family from harm. Pictured here is Haylee and her two brothers, who are 2-years-old and 6-years-old. (Submitted by Riley Lesnick)

"The school had just done lessons with the fire department on house fires and everything and I think that helped her stay calm because she kind of turned into the leader … making sure everyone was all out," said Lesnick. 

Lesnick praised the Nipigon Volunteer Fire Dept. for their work at the scene, along with staff and nurses at the Nipigon District Memorial Hospital.

The family of four has lost all their belongings as result of the fire, which reignited again Monday night around 11 p.m., according to Lesnick. She said while the cause fire is still under investigation, it appears it was due to an electrical malfunction.

The Nipigon Volunteer Fire Dept. declined to comment on the incident when contacted by CBC News Tuesday. In an email to CBC News, the Mayor of Nipigon said because the family is displaced, community members and social agencies have been coming together to support Lesnick and her family.

A local school in the community and the Nipigon Baptist Church have worked to rally behind the family, collecting monetary donations, winter clothing and other necessities for Lesnick and her three children.

Lesnick said the amount of support from the Nipigon community, located about 120 kilometres east of Thunder Bay, Ont., and the surrounding region has been an "emotional" experience for her and her family as they begin to rebuild their lives.

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