Lifestyle & Human Interest

8-Year-Old Pulls Siblings from Burning Van Moments Before Explosion


Nobody likes car troubles, but there’s definitely a difference between dealing with a flat tire and running for your life as flames start shooting up from the hood.

Ciara Danielle Gallup dealt with the latter on Sept. 17 — but she wasn’t alone. Six children, all under the age of 10, were with her when the issues started.

“On the way home from picking my girls up from ballet….we lost all our car seats and a few small replaceable items, but I was able to rush and get all six kids out,” the shaken mom posted on Sept. 17.

“We were sitting at a stoplight and then I started to smell something weird and then there was some smoke,” she told WFLA. “I began to roll down my windows and that’s when I started to see some small flames. I screamed for the kids to get out, the van is on fire.”

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On her GoFundMe page, Gallup explained that she quickly turned the car off and got out of the 1996 Ford E-350.

“I was having trouble getting my 1-year-old out of the van because she was still in her car seat and it’s complicated when you are rushing,” she told WFLA. “Bastian who is 8 years old, stepped up at a time like this, in a rush and started unbuckling the kids with me.”

As the windows shattered and the van exploded, Gallup and her six children took shelter in the nearby church.

“Looking back, the driver side seat was then in flames,” she said. “We are so grateful that everyone made it out before the flames quickly engulfed the rest of the interior.”

“Brandon Christan Church helped us by allowing us inside their building and offering us food and water after speaking with the police and fire department.”

“They were even kind enough to contact DCF and help provide us with replacement car seats since there was no time to remove them from the burning van. We are so thankful that no one was hurt.”

“I can’t believe we survived this, I’m still shaking, but we’ll be going back to that church soon to thank them again with all the kids,” she concluded in her Facebook post. “What an insane day.”

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The problem was later determined to have been caused by a faulty engine, but thanks to Gallup’s quick actions and the help of her 8-year-old, Bastian, all seven of them are unharmed.

“I really want to shine some light on Bastian, the oldest in the car, 8, rushed to help Kyle and Savannah unbuckle before he ran out the van. It saved me time to grab everyone else. Within 3 or so minutes, I saw the driver side of the van on fire. He was so selfless, so young but he knew what to do,” she wrote in a comment under her Facebook post.

The children hand-wrote thank-you cards for everyone who helped them during their terrifying ordeal, and Gallup is hoping to raise money so they can purchase a replacement car.

Despite the frightening experience, this mom knows they were incredibly blessed to make it out alive.

“It was definitely a miracle,” she told WFLA.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking