CHEHALIS, Wash. — A teenager from Lewis County, Wash. was given an award for bravery, after she got her 3-year-old and 4-year-old sisters and the family dog out of their burning home, braving the flames to save lives.
Haylee Laur, 15, made the heroic rescues Dec. 27. Their home in Winlock was destroyed, but Laur saved multiple lives that day.
With her parents away, Haylee was babysitting when she smelled smoke.
“I ran back and I saw the whole hallway was just flames from the furnace, and I had to crawl to get Ellie and she was just in shock. I crawled back out and got Maddie and put them in the road — and then I ran back in for Buddy, because he's old and couldn't see,” said Laur. Buddy is the family's pug, who is disabled.
With snow falling, she then trudged about 200 yards through a frigid field — with both sisters in her arms — to reach the safety of the nearest neighbor. At the same time, Haylee was calling 911 to get firefighters to respond to the rural property. Dispatchers also alerted her parents, who rushed home immediately.
Laur was recognized for her bravery Thursday at the VR Lee Community Building in Chehalis.
“It's a tragic thing for the family, very tough for them, but she did an extraordinary thing,” said Lou Desmond.
Desmond works for Mag Instrument, Inc., the maker of MAGLITE flashlights. He set up the gathering to give Haylee the "MAGLITE Tough Award," which included a $2,000 gift. Desmond is also the family’s neighbor.
“I saw the flames from my backyard, because I live right around the corner from this family and I know them," Desmond said.
Getting the award was a little overwhelming for the teenager, but Haylee accepted it gracefully. Local fire officials came to show their appreciation for the girl's heroism.
“All is not lost, so when you look at someone like Haylee that will do that, and is humble about it, it is to be commended and be respected. We're very proud of her,” said Fire Chief Richard Underdahl of Lewis County Fire District 15 - Winlock Fire and Rescue.
Despite the loss of possessions, Haylee's mom Nichole Johnston is relieved to have all her family alive.
“She did the right thing… I know I probably would have panicked. It was big fire and she had to go back in there, it was huge,” said an emotional Johnston.
The family is now without a home and many of the basics. They are currently staying at a hotel in Longview.
A GoFundMe is set up for anyone who'd like to donate to help them get back on their feet.