Boy, 9, remembers safety tips, escapes house fire

The boy dropped to the floor, spotted a door and scrambled to safety

The Columbus Dispatch

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A 9-year-old boy escaped a North Side fire that killed his grandmother today by remembering safety tips he had learned in school, fire officials said.

Malachi Peoples told Columbus fire investigators that he began to panic in the burning home at 1803 Blake Ave. that he shared with his mother, Lola Jamar, and grandmother Aronda Cousin.

Then Malachi remembered an in-school presentation this year about what to do in case of a fire, Fire Battalion Chief Tracy Smith said. Malachi dropped to the floor, spotted a door and scrambled to safety.

“We’re very proud that he remembered all of that,” Smith said. “He utilized all those skills to get out.”

Malachi and Jamar, 27, escaped the 3:45 a.m. blaze without injuries. Firefighters pulled an unresponsive Cousin, 52, from the home; she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The fire was reported by a neighbor who called 911 after a hysterical Jamar ran from the home screaming that her child was somewhere inside.

Family members who came to see the gutted home for themselves today said Cousin had multiple sclerosis, needed a wheelchair to get around and spent much of her time in her bedroom. They declined to comment further.

The cause of the fire will be difficult to determine, Smith said. Only a few charred supports remained at the front of the house, where investigators believe the fire started. The only recognizable feature that remained was a blackened stove.

“We’ve got so much destruction to the house,” Smith said.

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