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Girl, 10, helps family escape Valley Stream fire, officials say

Valley Stream firefighters responded to a blaze at

Valley Stream firefighters responded to a blaze at a Hawthorne Avenue house in Valley Stream early Monday morning, Nov. 14, 2016. Everyone in the building escaped, thanks in part to a "cool and collected" 10-year-old girl, authorities said. The fire, which damaged the kitchen and dining room in a first-floor apartment, displaced four adults and five children, authorities said. Credit: Steve Grogan

She was “cool and collected” in a hot situation — a 10-year-old girl woke up to a fire Monday, alerted her mother and spoke to 911, Valley Stream fire officials said.

Flames in their Hawthorne Avenue kitchen blocked the exit, so Diana Loveras, her two younger siblings and their mother escaped through the window of another room, said Gene O’Brien, second assistant chief of the Valley Stream fire department.

“Because of her, they got everybody out,” O’Brien said. “The little girl did a great job.”

Diana said she and her siblings luckily were together, all sleeping in their mother’s bed instead of their own, when the smoke woke her up about 6:30 a.m.

“I yelled out ‘Mom, the house is filled with smoke,’ ” the fifth-grader said. “I couldn’t see anything.”

When her mother opened the bedroom door, Diana said, “it was like a cloud of smoke just burst into our house.”

Diana said she didn’t feel panicky at all and the worst part was trying to avoid getting burned by the heater near the window of her parents’ bedroom as she escaped.

“I was only a little worried, but besides that nothing bothered me,” she said. “We went out in our pajamas and it was freezing.”

Her mother, Aldelys Loveras, snatched the blanket she had put over the heater to protect her children as they climbed out, but it was big enough for just two and half kids, Diana said.

Her mother then ran to the upstairs apartment to alert a couple living there with a little boy and a toddler girl, but the father was already up, Diana said. Her mother carried the toddler out, the 10-year-old said.

Diana’s father was at work, so her mother dialed 911, and because she did not speak English well she handed the phone to her eldest, Diana.

The 911 operator had said a little girl gave the vital information like a pro, O’Brien said. She told the operator: “My kitchen’s on fire. Everybody’s out of the house.”

He got a taste of the heroine’s matter-of-factness himself at the scene, when he questioned her for his own fire report: “For a 10-year-old, she was very articulate.”

Everyone escaped before 75 firefighters from four departments arrived to quickly put out the blaze, confining the burn damage to the kitchen and dining room, O’Brien said. The American Red Cross arranged temporary housing and gave them funds for food and clothing.

The fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the fire, but it does not appear suspicious, O’Brien said.

Diane’s father, Alex Loveras, credits her with saving the family. He said he and his wife taught the children what to do in emergencies and that his daughter remembered what firefighters in school taught her.

“She was prepared,” he said.

The reward? A dinner, possibly sushi, one of her favorites, he said.

“My parents have told me that they were so proud of me,” Diana said. “And my siblings thanked me for waking them up so they could escape.”

Noting that the kitchen was destroyed, Diana said of dinner: “I think that’s a good reward.”

O’Brien said he would talk to the Valley Stream mayor about recognizing the girl’s “awesome job.”

“I think she definitely deserves something,” he said. “For a 10-year-old girl, she was calm, cool and collected. ”

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