8-year-old girl alerts family after West Park home catches fire

16 people to go to Lakeside Elementary School shelter during storm

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Erica Rakow - Reporter

WEST PARK, Fla. - An 8-year-old girl saved her family Saturday after their house caught fire in West Park.

The fire was reported at a house in the 3500 block of Southwest 40th Avenue.

Authorities said firefighters had difficulty getting inside the home, which had hurricane shutters, as the family prepared to hunker down during Hurricane Irma.

Jahnay Smith told Local 10 News reporter Erica Rakow that she was sleeping when she was awakened by the smell of smoke.

"Me and my mom were sleeping during the day and then I smelled fire, so I jumped out of my bed and my mom woke up too," Jahnay said.

Jahnay said she woke up her mother and then they helped their other relatives get out of the burning house.

"We ran everywhere to tell everyone to evacuate," she said.

A city commissioner and the vice mayor went to the home to assist the family before the storm hits.

"We contacted the city staff. We’re getting two of the city vans to transport both families out to Lakeside Elementary -- the new shelter that they just opened up. We're also coordinating with the Red Cross to make sure they get any necessary supplies -- toiletries -- that kind of stuff. We're trying to make it as easy a transition for them as we can," Commissioner Kristine Judeikis said.

Judeikis said two families consisting of 16 people will be going to the shelter.

She said they are grateful no one was injured in the fire.

"The material possessions can be replaced. The lives can't be," Judeikis said. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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