Albert Lea teen awarded for saving her family from house fire

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(ABC 6 News) – 14-year-old Kalia Ann Calderon-Medrano helped save her family after their home started on fire back in January.

She was awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award by the Albert Lea Fire Department on Friday for her heroic act.

"I woke up my friend and I grabbed my sister and I’m like ‘There’s a fire we gotta go,’" the eighth-grader at NRHEG said.

Kalia’s mother, Rosa Calderon-Medrano, woke her up that morning in January before she left for work at 6 a.m. to take care of her one-year-old sister, Kourtney.

Kalia was in the living room when she heard a crackling noise coming from another room.

"So I started seeing smoke enter the room so I started sniffing and I’m like ‘What’s that smell?’ So I got up and I went to my room because that’s where all of the smoke was coming from, and I saw all of my curtain and half of my wall was on fire," she said.

Kalia called her mom who was then at work five minutes away.

"She was on the phone with me and she said ‘Mom the house is on fire,’" Rosa said.

Rosa came home from work immediately to her daughters and Kalia’s friend in the driveway in shorts and no shoes with the house up in flames.

"I’m gonna be honest with you. I never thought it would ever happen to us. We’ve talked about it before but never did we have like an exit plan or anything like that," Rosa said.

Everywhere they go now they have an exit plan, Rosa said.

"Everything happened so quickly so I didn’t really know how to react. And I was mostly thinking about getting my friend and my sister out," Kalia said. "I was thinking like everything I learned in school and like every TV show I’ve watched."

Kalia took matters into her own hands that morning.

"I mean as adults, I don’t even think we react to situations until we’re actually in them. And for her at 14-years-old to be able to get herself, her friend and my one-year-old daughter out of the house. I can’t be more proud," her mother said.

Since then, the family has been placed in temporary housing as they pick up the pieces of that life-changing day. They lost everything in their home.

"I mean the hardest thing is losing everything that you’ve ever known and just building everything back up," Rosa said.

Rosa said it took Kalia a while to realize that she saved everyone’s lives and that she is still so humble about it.

"I mean this is an event that I don’t think nobody plans for. I mean this is a very very traumatic event for both of us and I feel like we got it. We got it figured out," Rosa said.

The Albert Lea Fire Dept. said they don’t see heroes like Kalia very often, especially someone her age.

There has been a GoFundMe created for the family.