Firefighters are calling a 9-year-old boy a hero after his quick actions helped his family safely escape a house fire Christmas morning.
It happened just before 3:30 a.m. at a home near Park Avenue and 11th Street in Fond Du Lac. And thankfully for his family, Zeven Jelic said he had been tossing and turning that night.
"I was trying to sleep on the couch because I couldn't sleep and then I saw the smoke," said Zeven.
The boy says he ran to tell his sleeping dad who then found a large amount of smoke in the basement but couldn't find the source. The family quickly got out of the house and called 911.
Crews from the Fond du Lac Fire Department arrived within minutes, praising the young boy.
"They said that I was a hero and stuff and they gave me a sticker," said Zeven.
Fond du Lac Fire Capt. Joe Maramonte says Zeven did exactly what they always teach children to do, get out and call 911.
"It was a small minor fire in the grand scheme of things but it was only 15 to 20 minutes away from us talking about a tragedy," said Maramonte.
The boy's father, Kevin Jelic, says their basement smoke detector had recently been disabled by someone fixing their plumbing. He and his wife's bedroom is farthest from the basement and if Zeven hadn't been sleeping on the couch...
"It could have been a lot worse and I guess thanks to Zeven, that's not the case," said Keven Jelic.
And on this holiday, Zeven's parents say they're grateful first that their family is safe. Zeven says he's also grateful that Santa had already come before the fire started, and other than the smoke, nothing was damaged.
"At first I was scared then I wasn't scared anymore now that I knew my Christmas presents would be OK," said Zeven.
Maramonte says fire crews helped the family install working smoke detectors in their home and officials say this should serve as a reminder for everyone to check their alarms and ensure they're working.
Investigators are still working to determine what caused the fire.