West Park girl honored for saving family from house fire during Hurricane Irma

Jahnay Smith, 8, honored Wednesday night at commission meeting

WEST PARK, Fla. – A young girl is being hailed a hero after she helped save more than a dozen of her relatives from a house fire as they rode out Hurricane Irma together. 

"I smelt fire so I jumped out of my bed and my mom woke up too," Jahnay Smith told Local 10 News. "I smelled smoke, but she thought it was light, so she told me to go over there and look by the window and then there was fire."

Authorities said 14 relatives were inside the West Park home Sept. 9 when Hurricane Irma began blowing through South Florida.

Police said the cause of the fire was electrical. 

Jahnay, 8, was emotional as she described waking everyone up that day and helping them out of the burning home.

"But now our house is gone," she said. "I had to push my dad. He's a little slow. He has a sore leg."

The mayor of West Park, city commissioners and neighbors rushed over to the victims' home. helping to coordinate getting the family to a storm shelter as Irma churned closer.

"The devil was trying to get us with his demons, but I fight. I fight for my family and I try to make everyone better," Jahnay said. "I try to be the hero."

Recognizing her for that heroism, the same city commissioners brought Jahnay to their meeting Wednesday night where she was presented with a proclamation, gifts and a reunion with the firefighters who responded to her home that day.

"I'm very surprised and very thankful, because I saved my very own family and nothing happened to them," Jahnay said.

Jahnay's family says they are very proud of her heroism. 

"She is a brilliant little girl. All I can say is, thank God that she is here today," Jahnay's mother, Geraldine Paul, said.   

"It was a big fire. Without her alerting everybody, who knows what could've happened with the rest of the family," Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Capt. Brendan Brannigan said. 

Jahnay's family is still slowly picking up the pieces of their lives after the devastating fire.

As for Jahnay, she says she wants to be a firefighter or a police officer when she grows up.