Lifestyle & Human Interest

Teen's Favorite TV Show Prompts Her to Investigate Burning Smell, Quickly Discovers People Trapped in Apartment Fire


On Aug. 24, 14-year-old Lily Swanson of Leyland, Lancashire, England, was out walking her dog Isobel when she sensed danger brewing.

She was close to home, on Hough Lane, when she was met with a burning smell and spotted smoke trailing out the window of an apartment above a shop. She could see that people were still inside.

An avid viewer of the FOX show “9-1-1” and a sea cadet, Lily knew what to do. She and Isobel ran home where she woke her dad, 42-year-old Mike Swanson, and placed a call for help.

“There were no flames at that point, but I could see people inside,” Lily told the Lancashire Post. “I knew they needed help fast and I had to get home and call 999.”

Her dad grabbed some ladders and headed to the apartment, where the residents were attempting to climb out.

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“As soon as I called the fire brigade, we ran back outside and we could see people hanging out the window,” Lily continued.

“It had only been a minute or two since I first saw the smoke but as we were running over to help them, one of the windows blew off and fell into the street. That’s when me and my dad saw the flames. I told my dad we should try and get everyone out of the other window above the barber’s next door.”

“We opened the ladders and leaned them against the building and there were two or three people trying to climb out. They were desperate.

“But then the fire brigade showed up very quickly and took over. We couldn’t believe how fast they got there.”

Thanks to Lily’s vigilance and her father’s resourcefulness, everyone made it out alive. Mike, who’d been asleep, was obviously quite proud of his hero daughter.

“It was a proud dad moment for me, as it could have been a lot worse if it wasn’t for Lily’s quick response,” he said.

“She’s been obsessed with this TV programme on Disney+ called ‘9-1-1’. It’s about emergency services in America who deal with things like this. Then this happened practically on our doorstep and she handled it brilliantly. I’m very proud.”

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The Sea Cadets also recognized their cadet’s bravery.

“We are extremely proud of one of our cadets, NEC Lily whose courage, cool headedness and quick thinking in raising the alarm saved the lives of 3 people in a house fire recently,” Sea Cadets Chorley shared on Facebook.

“A credit to her parents and a much valued member of our unit.”

Jonny Nottingham, the local fire station manager, also commended the teen’s level-headedness.

“We’d like to thank Lily for calling us so quickly after spotting the fire in the apartment,” Nottingham said. “We have seen in the past that people can have lots of different reactions to seeing a fire but Lily showed maturity and calmness beyond her years to quickly and effectively notify us.”

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