Trending Topics

FF daughter, 6, wakes family to escape fire

Madalyn Karlbon, daughter of Avenel Firefighter and former Chief Jimmy Karlbon, woke her family after hearing the smoke detector go off


Katie Kausch
NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J.

AVENEL, N.J. — A firefighter and his family escaped a late-night blaze thanks in part to his quick-thinking 6-year-old daughter, who heard the fire alarm and alerted everyone to escape the flames, authorities said.

Jimmy Karlbon, a current member of the Avenel Fire Department and a former chief, was asleep at home early Sunday when a fire started in his kitchen.

His 6-year-old daughter, Madalyn, was awakened by the fire alarms just after 2 a.m., and immediately ran to her dad once she saw smoke.

“Without any hesitation she jumped into action and ultimately saved the lives of her family by remembering all she was taught during fire prevention week and through the vast knowledge that her dad and fellow firefighter family has instilled in her,” the Avenel Fire Department said in a Facebook post. “To say all of us here at the Avenel Fire Department are so proud of you is an understatement. Way to go Madalyn. You’re indeed a hero!!!”

Karlbon got Madalyn and her brother, 2-year-old Hunter, out of the home safely before helping his girlfriend, Sarah Woods, out, fire official Cory Spillar told NJ Advance Media.

No one was seriously injured in the fire. Woods sustained a burn to her hand, but declined medical treatment, Spillar said. The family cat escaped on its own, and found its way back to the family.

The fire started on the stove top in the kitchen, Spillar said. A family member fell asleep while cooking food, and it eventually sparked a fire, Spillar said.

The fire stayed in the kitchen, but smoke damaged the entire home, Spillar said.

The home is currently uninhabitable, and the family has lost almost all of their belongings, Spillar said. To help get them back on their feet while the family stays in a hotel, the Avenel Fire Department is collecting donations of clothes, toys, and money.

Madalyn wears a size 7/8, and Hunter wears a 3T/4T. Checks can be made payable to The Avenel Fire Company Community Fund. All donations can be dropped off at the Avenel Fire Department at 346 Avenel Street in Avenel.


©2020 NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J.

Mayor Eric Adams’s contact with then-Commissioner Daniel Nigro about safety violations is discovered in a wider corruption investigation
The story of Billy Moon, a heroic fallen FDNY firefighter, and the people whose lives he has saved
Residents at Reserve at LaVista Walk said fire alarms regularly go off at the apartment complex
Nobody should care more about your health than you do; take the time to find some testing resources in your area