11-year-old honored for rescuing siblings, cousins from house fire

DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. — A Douglas County 11-year-old is being hailed as a hero for helping his young siblings and cousins escape a house fire.

Channel 2′s Kristen Holloway was in Douglas County Thursday, where Calil Gillis got the fire chief award for his actions.

Gillis said he, his siblings and cousins were all asleep when he started feeling uncomfortable.

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“It started getting hotter and hotter in my room,” Gillis said. “When I woke up it was smoke coming out the vents. I went in the hallway and I couldn’t see a thing.”

That’s when Gillis called his mom to tell her what he saw. Both of Gillis’ parents work overnight.

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“So I look out of my window, it’s a full, raging fire coming up my window,” Gillis said.

Gillis said he woke up everyone and made sure they got out of the house. He then tried to find a bucket to pour water on the fire and douse the flames, but couldn’t find one.

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All five children ran out of the home.

“So we all just got out the house, barefoot and all,” Gillis said.

Gillis’ parents, Bryant and Charetta Goodwin, raced home to find not much left of their home.

“When I get out of the truck I just see our house as high as trees can go, it’s just engulfed,” Bryant Goodwin said. “And I’m telling mama, ‘We lost everything.’ I just thank God that my babies are all right.”

The Goodwins told Holloway they practice their fire escape plan often with their kids.

“That just makes me feel proud as a parent, to know that they’re actually listening,” Charetta Goodwin said.

The Douglas County fire chief says this is a great reminder to always practice your fire escape plan with your children, just like the Gillis family did, and make sure you have working smoke detectors.

The community has set up a GoFundMe to help the family get back on their feet.