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9-year-old’s safety plan helps family escape 2-alarm fire | #schoolsaftey


CENTENNIAL, Colo. — When South Metro Fire Rescue teaches kids about fire safety in schools, students like 9-year-old Aelwen Holden are eager do their part.

“That day when I go home, we start planning our fire route,” Aelwen said.

That day was in April earlier this year at her elementary school in Centennial. She was in third grade last and spring had an assignment from a firefighter at South Metro Rescue Fire to develop a plan in case of a fire at home.

“I thought that it would someday it would be very important because if you are ever in a fire, that would be very, very important,” Aelwen said.

Her plan included instructions like stay low, establish a meeting place outside, and inform neighbors of the fire if they can. She shared it with her 12-year-old brother Tristan and her mother Alicia Holden. Aelwen got them to practice it.

“I thought it was important to practice just in case if it did happen because if it did happen and if you had no practice, you would have no idea what to do,” Aelwen said.

Her mother said the practice was helpful.

RELATED: Families displaced after Aurora apartment fire

“It’s just so important to keep everybody safe because whether or not you think it’s gonna happen, the chances are that it could happen,” Alicia Holden said.

It did happen on June 2. South Metro Fire Rescue responded to a 2-alarm fire at Aelwen’s condominium complex near The Streets at Southglenn mall in Centennial.

“I was thinking oh God, okay, what do we do? Okay, okay, remember the plan, remember the plan,” Aelwen said.

The plan changed when Alicia Holden said their escape route was filled with smoke. So, she and her family had to find another direction to escape and went to a secondary meeting spot.

“There were parts of the plan that didn’t go to plan,” Alicia Holden said while laughing. “Ironically, parts didn’t go to plan, but it helped us to organize. It helped us to make sure other people were safe and other people were getting out.”

Selena Silva is a Community Risk Reduction Specialist with South Metro Fire Rescue. Silva is part of team of five fire fighters who work with students in and around Littleton and Centennial offering incentives like ice cream for coming up with a fire escape plan.

“Believe it or not, our kids in our community are the fire drill experts,” Silva said. “Those that can stand to learn a lesson are us adults. As adults, we rarely practice a fire drill and we tend to ignore the fire alarm when we hear it.”

Silva said the entire family must take fire precautions seriously instead of taking things for granted.

“So not only thinking through a plan, but also practicing your plan can help with muscle memory. It can help your brain trigger the right steps to take,” SIlva said.

Four months after the fire, the Holdens are still trying to figure things out. Their home is still in shambles and Aelwen’s mom said life is tough.

“There’s a lot of stress and worry and how are we going to get through this — but we’re all together,” Alicia Holden said.

Together and safe because she believes having a plan played a role in keeping them from getting hurt in the smoke and fire. The Holden Family has a gofundme Campaign. If you would like to find out more, click here.

“Always make sure you have a plan because someday it can happen,” Aelwen said. “Yes, it’s scary but you still have to do the right thing.”

RELATED: Firefighters rescue person from house fire in Aurora

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