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Etowah Student, Father Save Family From House Fire

Jesse Sullivan and his father James Sullivan helped save a family of four from their burning home in Illinois.

Credit: Patch
Credit: Patch
An Etowah High School student and his father are hometown heroes for risking their lives to save a family from a house fire in a midwestern state.

Jesse Sullivan, 16, and his father James Sullivan helped pull a family of four to safety after their home caught fire while the Sullivans were visiting relatives during the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Jesse, a junior at Etowah, said his family were visiting his aunt's home in Chicago when she noticed a neighbor's home was on fire as she was putting her baby to bed.

Jesse said he and his father went outside to see where exactly the fire, which started during the middle of the night, was coming from. The pair then bolted towards the home. Father and son went to the home, pounded on the door and were greeted by a woman. 

After the woman was safe, Jesse said he made a sweep of the downstairs and located a man while his father went upstairs and grabbed two young boys. 

The husband and wife, and their two children, made it out alive with no injuries. Jesse said he didn't hesitate when he saw the fire.

"I didn’t think twice about it," he said. "I just did it."

The Sullivans were also able to salvage stuffed animals inside the home, which were given to the children to comfort them during the distressing time.

Jesse, who is on Etowah's weight lifting and wrestling team, said he viewed the act as simply paying it forward — something he is all too familiar with.

When he was four, he, his father and his younger sister were the victims of vehicle accident that resulted in a car fire.

His father fell unconscious inside the car. However, volunteers rushed the car, pulled out Jesse and his younger sister and then removed his father from the car as it caught fire. 

That act that saved Jesse, his sister and father's lives, occurred as a result of "someone paying it forward," the Etowah student said. 

Etowah Principal Keith Ball commended his student's actions. 

"Jesse is a humble hero and someone you would want in your corner when the chips are down," he added. "We are proud he is an Etowah Eagle and we can all learn from his selfless sacrifice."

When asked what he'd like others to take away from his story, Jesse simply paraphrased a quote from Bob Dylan.

"A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom," he read. 

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