Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Young Heroes Rescue 2; 7 Escape Morning Fire in Northside Home

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Young Heroes Rescue 2; 7 Escape Morning Fire in Northside Home

Article excerpt

Byline: Dana Treen, Times-Union staff writer

Amid the screams of children and despite thick smoke and explosive fire, two quick-acting girls saved two youngsters from a blaze yesterday morning that destroyed a Jacksonville home but didn't harm any of the seven people inside.

"I was hearing cracking noises," said Christi Roaldsen, 17, who looked to her neighbor's home and spotted flames and smoke just as she was leaving for school. "I banged on the door but nobody answered."

A fire that started about 6:30 a.m. in the rear of the house in the 7300 block of Penrose Street gutted the home, scorching a backyard oak and killing a cage full of birds where the fire started.

Roaldsen told her stepfather to call firefighters while she went next door and then, getting no answer at the door, went inside.

Grandmother Betty Olin, five grandchildren and a friend of one of the granddaughters were trying to escape from the house, witnesses said.

Neighbor Roaldsen and Elizabeth Scholl, 12, who lived in the house, grabbed the two youngest children from back rooms and carried them to safety. The three other children who had been inside and Olin also escaped.

"Go get Kevin, go get Kevin," Roaldsen said she heard someone say. Roaldsen found Kevin Scholl, 4, in a side bedroom.

"He was like, 'Get me out of here.' He was crying," she said.

As Roaldsen was getting the youngster, Elizabeth Scholl could hear her cousin Rebecca Scholl, 6, screaming in a back room.

"I said, 'Come here, come here,' " Elizabeth Scholl said. "She was like, 'We're going to die, we're going to die.' "

Making her way out of the house, the 12-year-old said the fire grew intense.

"It knocked me and her into the cabinets," she said, her arms smudged with soot but otherwise unscathed. Neither of the rescuers was hurt.

Two cats and and a pair of dogs in the house also were saved but several birds, including a dove and at least two parakeets, died.

Brothers John Scholl, 10, and Chris Scholl, 8, got out of the fire, as did Olin, who had been in a front bedroom. Jessica Brandt, 13, a friend of Elizabeth Scholl, also escaped.

The fire started in the rear porch area of the house where a collection of sheds and other structures extended into the yard, said Capt. …

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