'Callie saved all of us:' 7-year-old girl alerts family of nine to devastating fire

A Leesburg family had a frightening wake-up call on Tuesday. 

“Little Callie, she is our hero.  She is our hero,” said Tina Mattingly as tears rolled down her cheeks. Her 7-year-old granddaughter fell asleep on the couch Monday night, a move that may have saved her whole family.  

“She said she heard a popping noise right next to her ear.  And, said she sat up. She said she saw the fire and went to her dad’s room and beat on the door, went in and woke him up. Callie saved all of us,” said Tina.

Callie’s dad, who is Tina’s son, jumped out of bed to wake Tina up.  It was around 3 a.m.  

“We were sleeping and I heard just an un-Godly beating and banging,” Tina explained.  “I got up to unlock the front door and my son was there. He said, ‘Get out, get everybody out.  The house is on fire.’”

Tina says their home was already filled with white smoke.  “I just took off running to the back of the trailer, to get everybody out,” said Tina.  She first went to the bedroom where her two grandsons were sleeping.

 “I kept gagging” Tina said.  Then ran to the bedroom her daughter and her granddaughter were sleeping in, waking them up.  Then she ran to her room and grabbed the baby.  “Not a moment too soon,” Tina said.

Seconds after they all got out, she says the fire intensified.  “It roared. It just went up in flames,” said Tina.  

Nine people were sleeping in the home when the fire started.  Five adults, three children and an infant.

Tina’s son tried to go back in to get Finn the family dog, breaking a window. “When he did it all came at him. He cut his hand and foot and got burned somewhat.”  It was too late.  Firefighters told the family Finn likely died from smoke inhalation, and buried him in the family’s backyard for them. 

The family of 9 lost everything right down to eyeglasses and car keys.  And, they don’t have renters insurance.  While they’re heartbroken and scared of what’s next, they’re counting their blessings.  “I’m very thankful my family made it out alive,” said Tina. “Callie saved all of us.”

Tina says the Leesburg Fire Department believes the fire started in a portable air conditioning unit.