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May 26, 2023
Kayla and Nathan Dahl were resting, deeply asleep on a Sunday morning, when they were suddenly awakened by their 2-year-old son who muttered two of the few words he knows: “Mama, fire”.
The child, Brandon, kept tugging at his mother’s foot until she woke up. The mom, Kayla, first thought her son was trying to tell her he was hot and wanted to be changed out of his pajamas. She soon realized the truth: her house was engulfed in flames and they had to get out as soon as possible.
Their one-story colonial home was already consumed by fire when Brandon’s parents were woken up. None of the fire detectors they had installed had gone off. The Dhals couldn’t even be awakened by the smell of the smoke that surrounded them slowly: they had both tested positive for COVID-19 and had lost their sense of smell.
“We were still recovering from covid, so neither of us had our sense of taste and smell,” Kayla stated for The Washington Post in an interview.
Thanks to Brandon’s warning, the parents were able to get themselves and their other five kids out of the house in time. No one suffered any injuries. The house, though, suffered extreme damage.
It seems like the Dhals were very lucky: Brandon usually sleeps with his older brothers upstairs, but since he was feeling poorly, he slept in the living room that connected to his parent’s bedroom so they could monitor him throughout the night. Had he been in his regular room, he might have not been awakened by the smell of the smoke, or reach his parents, as fast as he did.
“It’s going to be a long, hard road to get to be where we need to be and to replace those material items,” she explained. “But at the same time, if it wasn’t for my son’s guardian angel that morning, I don’t know where we would be.”
Brandon had to escape a lit-up living room at around 4:30 am to alert his parents. It was quite the feat since most parts of the floor and furniture were covered in flames. He was able to reach the bedroom unharmed.
As soon as Kayla realized what was going on, she called 911. It was also convenient that her husband Nathan is a volunteer firefighter and knew exactly how to act, taking the kids outside the burning house.
Since the family was acquaintanced with fire safety due to the father’s job, the kids and parents practiced fire drills regularly and had set out escape routes for each room. Once outside, they had to stay at a neighbor’s and wait for the firefighters to come to stop the fire.
Not much was saved from the 3 bedroom home they had inhabited for almost six years. The family also lost their truck and most of their belongings. For now, they are staying with relatives until they can solve their living situation.
Brandon’s parents plan to throw a party for him in celebration of his bravery. They are proud of him and completely acknowledge that if he had not alerted them, the consequences could have been much direr.
“I don’t think he quite understands the impact of what he did and the good thing that he is,” Kayla expressed in an interview. “But he is relishing the abundance of attention. If we go to Walmart or the gas station and somebody recognizes us from the news, they’ll pat him on the back and try to shake his hand, ‘You’re a hero! I’m so happy to meet a hero!’ “