A 12-year-old boy is being called a hero by a family who say he saved an elderly relative with dementia from a fire in their Palm Harbor Jan 2.

  • 12 year old and his family staying at house that caught fire
  • Got 83-year-old grandfather out of the house, then called for help
  • Off-duty firefighter saw firetrucks en route, came to help

The boy, whose name is Seth, and his family were in town staying with Molly Williams-Hagn and her family for the holidays. Williams-Hagn's home caught fire in the early afternoon that day, and the flames spread fast.

"My whole ceiling in my bedroom is gone," Williams-Hagn said. "Everything that I've had forever is gone,"

Williams-Hagn said she and her two children weren’t home at the time, and neither was her mother, Valerie Williams. The only people inside were Seth and Williams-Hagn's 83-year-old grandfather.

She said Seth saw the smoke and flames, got her grandfather out of the house, and then ran and called for help.

"If Seth had not been there, my dad would not be here," Valerie Williams said. "My dad would be in his room probably laying on his bed reading the paper and would've succumbed to smoke inhalation and would be gone."

Both Molly Williams-Hagn and Valerie Williams credit this young man with saving Williams' 83-year-old father, who suffers from dementia. (Photo courtesy Molly Williams-Hagn)

The young boy’s quick thinking saved a life. An off duty Palm Harbor firefighter/paramedic saw the firetrucks and rushed over to help, providing mouth-to-muzzle CPR to a family pet.

"That's what's great about firefighters even when they're off duty, they have a natural instinct to want to help people," Lt. Bill Fisher with Palm Harbor Fire Rescue said.

Sadly, a puppy and family cat didn’t survive the fire.

Though they lost almost everything, the family said they’re still counting their blessings.

"This is a horrible event, but if anything has come out of it we've realized how many people love us, and how many people have been there for us and supported us and we're just so grateful for that," Williams-Hagn said.

The North Pinellas Firefighters Charity group gave the family a $1,000 check to help them get back on their feet. They are still collecting gift cards and donations for the family to replace the children's Christmas toys, clothes, and food.

Gift card donations can be dropped off to Palm Harbor Fire Rescue Administration Building at 250 West Lake Road, Palm Harbor, FL.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.