Makayla Thornsburg, an 8-year-old Paris girl who saved her family from a burning house, ditched the faux humility sometimes displayed by super humans.
"Yes, I feel like a hero," she exclaimed in a small yet proud voice.
Her pride is well-earned. On Friday, Makayla was honored in front of hundreds of applauding students at Paris Elementary School for alerting her parents to the fire that consumed their home Tuesday.
Makayla and five others — including her father, Paul Thornsburg, and her 10-year-old brother, Malachi Thornsburg — were fast asleep when the fire began in the attic of their Seventh Street home.
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The family's working smoke detectors didn't go off. Thick, black smoke was contained to the attic, then plumed high into the air once the fire tore through the roof.
Luckily, a neighborhood dog was startled by the blaze.
"What woke me up was big, loud dog barks," Makayla said.
Looking up, Makayla saw a spot where the fire had burned through the ceiling. She wasted no time, first waking up her aunt, Lisa Wease.
The two then went through the house pounding on bedroom doors and waking up family members. By the time the fire department arrived, all six family members were outside. They were cold, pajama-clad and homeless, but alive.
"Had she not got up and recognized what was going on ... the fire could have actually burnt through the whole attic and dropped the whole roof on us," Paul Thornsburg said.
Paul Thornsburg, Lisa Wease and Makayla's mother, Sabrina Fowler, were present Friday when Paris Fire Chief Andy Roe presented Makayla with a plaque during Paris Elementary's morning assembly.
"Because of her quick thinking and bravery, she was responsible for helping save the lives of six people," the plaque reads.
Makayla beamed as Principal Rachelle Schjoll placed a Greyhound Hero Award medal around her neck.
Her brother Malachi then made a short speech and asked students to give his sister another round of applause, which turned into a standing ovation as the two hugged. Finally, Schjoll presented Makayla and Malachi with the Holy Grail of prizes for an 8- and 10-year-old: stuffed Pillow Pets.
"That makes me feel proud," Makayla said of her brother's speech.
In attendance was Hunter Caudill, another student who was recently honored for waking his family up during a fire. The fire department recognized Hunter in a similar ceremony about two months ago, fire department spokesman Jeff McFarland said.
Thankfully, Makayla and Hunter both had training for such an emergency. The two had recently completed a class on fire safety hosted by the Paris Fire Department.
Paris firefighter Steve Asbury works with schools to teach fire prevention and safety at all Paris schools, McFarland said. Honoring two young heroes in two months is a sign that the program is working.
"We're seeing some real — I guess you could call them — dividends from the time we put in there," McFarland said.
"It's good that these kids are stepping up and taking care of things."