Center boy, 5, saves his family from fire

By Donna McCollum - email

Center, TX (KTRE) - An East Texas family is now living with relatives and wearing donated clothing after fire destroyed their apartment in Center.  Fortunately, everyone got out alive, thanks to a five year old boy.

Makel Johnson starts kindergarten in a few weeks.  He will show up knowing a pretty important word.  Family and rescue workers are calling the tyke a hero.  Makel is still processing what makes a hero.

It all started when he watched his family's apartment start up in flames.  Fortunately, he knew where there's smoke, fire isn't far behind.  "Our house caught on fire and I had to go tell my mama,"  the youngster said.

Firefighters successfully prevented the fire from spreading to other apartments.  Before their arrival, Makel was concerned for the safety of his one year old sister, who had been asleep in bed.  "Well, the bed was already on fire. The baby was laying on the bed and he was, "We got to get her."  All I could do was hold him back and I grabbed the baby by her leg," said Makel's mother, Janice Swindle.

Everything they own is in ashes, including Makel's first ever school supplies.  When news traveled around Center that Markel wanted to retrieve the supplies from the burning apartment, Larry Hume choked up.  He and went right to work replacing the lost items.  Pencils, glue, markers and more were all packed with care in a new backpack.  It isn't like the Dallas Cowboys backpack he lost in the fire, but Makel's smile showed, that's alright.

Makel is now equipped with supplies and the knowledge of knowing heroic deeds don't go unrecognized.

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