MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More than two months after St. Paul firefighters pulled a girl from a burning home, she got a chance to say thank you.
Late Monday afternoon, the child and her rescuers were brought together at an awards ceremony.
Nine-year-old Neveah Sellers shook hands with the firefighters and paramedics who saved her life that February morning.
“I’m very thankful. She is my only baby,” said Trinity Sellers, the girl’s mother. “I’m very blessed that she is here today, and I’m very thankful for the people who saved her.”
Nevaeh let a poster do the talking for her while the St. Paul fire chief honored the firefighters from Station 7, and the paramedics from Medic 22.
Nevaeh’s poster read: “My hero.”
“You know, this could have a complete disaster,” said Fire Chief Tim Butler said. “There could have been lots of fatalities. We see them every day across the United States. About 3,000 people die in fires.”
When smoke started pouring from family’s basement on February 17, they ran outside… only to realize Neveah was missing.
Family members and neighbors tried moving through the heavy smoke and even breaking out a small basement window, but no one could reach her — except firefighters John Wolfsberger and Joel Davies.
“My partner Joel heard her moaning, and we located her under some debris,” Wolfsberger said.
Neveah was hospitalized for nine days and has undergone some surgery for the burns she suffered that day.
Mark Peterson, Neveah’s grandfather, was at the awards ceremony as well.
“None of us would be here today…without the teamwork and effort,” he said. “It’s been a long, long road to recovery. And thank God the little girl is here.”
St. Paul’s fire marshal said that the basement of that house didn’t have a window big enough to escape from in the event of a fire.
The family was renting the home, but appeared to be using the basement space as a sleeping area. The law requires large, egress windows in basement bedrooms, as well as a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide detector.
As for the cause of the fire, the fire marshal says they’ve narrowed it down to either careless smoking near the mattress in the basement or an electrical problem.
There is no official cause as of yet.