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3rd Grader Spots Fire, Helps Neighbor Avoid Disaster

Steven Wanas, 7, was the first to notice a fire at his neighbor's home on Avon Court on August 22.

When Steven Wanas, 7, of 9 Avon Court in Wakefield saw bright orange flames leaping from his neighbor's front porch on August 22, he knew just what to do.

"I told my mom and grandmother to call 9-1-1,"  he said.

The family had been watching TV together around 5 p.m. on Monday when Steven, a 3rd grader at took a cursory glance out the window. And what he saw next door at 7 Avon Court took him by complete surprise.

"It was the last thing I expected," he said. "I looked on that side and I saw flames burning against the window. I was so scared."

Steven's family called 9-1-1 and alerted the owner of the home, Phil Rogers, who was on his back porch at the time the fire started. Rogers, a retired Wakefield Firefighter, grabbed a garden hose and began to fight the fire himself until the arrived.

"He basically saved his own house by doing that," said Wakefield Fire Chief Michael Sullivan. "It was the second time this month that a Wakefield Fire retiree made a significant contribution to putting a fire out," he said, referencing the .

Rogers was the only one in the residence at the time, and he escaped uninjured.

The fire has been ruled as accidental, but the cause of the fire is still to be determined. One theory is that hot sunlight shining through glass onto old newspapers could have ignited the front porch area.

The role Steven played in noticing the fire immediately was pivotal, the chief said. 

"[The fire] scorched all the woodwork on the ceiling of the porch and bubbled up the paint, so another another couple of minutes and that fire would have gotten out of the porch and into the house," he said. "Steven did a good job."

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