Helena Abbott can’t shake the sight of seeing her son in the hallway of their Hamilton home as flames licked the walls and smoke filled the bedroom behind him.
She put her hand out for 7-year-old, Brody, to grab, and with daughter, Shelby Devine, already at her side, they quickly fled outside.
Within seconds, the Vesty Ave, Hillcrest, house burst into flames, exploding windows and sending them running for cover.
An emotional Abbott told the Herald this afternoon that Brody was now “her hero” after alerting them to the fire.
Abbott said she heard him call out to her as she slept in the lounge just after 5am today.
It was common for him to want water and instinctively, she would have normally gone to the kitchen.
For a reason she now can’t explain, she instead decided to walk down the hallway to his room, after he yelled out that he wanted water – but not to drink – she learned from him this afternoon, it was to help put the fire out due to flames in his room.
“He was just sort of walking towards us, so slowly, and I put my hand out and there were smoke and flames behind him. I feel like I’m so lucky to have my boy. He saved our lives.”
All three were taken to Waikato Hospital, where Brody was treated for some minor burns to his feet, after flames licked them while he slept.
Abbott said they had endured some tough times recently, she herself was “mum, dad, aunty, uncle, grandma, grandad” as they had no other family around.
Not insured and now left with nothing, they had managed, on Wednesday afternoon, to get a $100 grant from Work and Income, along with a week’s accommodation at a local motel.
They hadn’t stayed in their home for just over a week, for her own safety, but last night decided to get back there as it had been cold and wet.
She tucked her son into bed, and as she routinely did, turned the heater on low to keep her son warm overnight.
However, at some point she believes it has caught fire, waking up her son who has then yelled out for water.
Although the trio now have nothing, she continues to break down in tears just knowing that all three of them have escaped with their lives.
She now encouraged other parents to give their children an extra big hug tonight “as you never know what’s around the corner”.
“Embrace your kids and love them. They could be here today, gone tomorrow.”
Earlier, Waikato fire safety officer George Jensen praised the young boy for alerting his family to the fire.
However, he said it was a timely reminder for people to check their smoke alarms were working, as although there two installed in the home, the batteries were flat.
“This is just a really good reminder that it is the landlord’s responsibility to install at least one working smoke alarm in an appropriate place, however it’s up to the tenants to make sure they are still working and that includes batteries and to make sure those batteries are working.
“There was the potential here for quite a significant loss of life. Dead batteries can mean dead people.”