AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – The city of Auburn and its local fire department are honoring an Auburn teenager’s remarkable story of heroism and brotherly love.
“When I looked into the room, I saw smoke behind the dryer. When I opened up the door, flames just burst out,” recalled Kounte’s mother, Amber Threadgill.
Amber tried to put the fire out, but the extinguisher didn’t work. Flames quickly overtook the hallway. Amber said she started to panic.
” I don’t even know how to describe it; the flames engulfed the whole hallway. At this point and my two-year-old was running back and forth, and I couldn’t get to her, and we started screaming,” said Amber.
That’s when Kounte ran through the fire and grabbed his younger siblings, Kish, Koa, and Kountess. He brought them back to his room, broke a window, and helped them escape outside. Then, Kounte went back inside to find his baby brother in his mother’s room.
“I had to run as fast as I could into mom’s room and get him out too. Everyone was out at that time, and I was the last one out with the baby. I didn’t think I was just acting,” said Kounte.
When Auburn Firefighters arrived, the family was safely out. Fire crews worked to extinguish the fire. Sgt. Ben Royston was in charge of looking the family over for injuries. Royston remembers hearing what Kounte had done, seeing the teen’s singed pajama’s and thinking the young man was a hero.
“We all think you are a hero, you stepped up, and it was scary for anyone, even firefighters. At first, it was hard to believe, then we saw his pajamas, and they were scorched up a good bit. I think he showed extraordinary bravery and courage. When he’s 18, we told him he could come to see us about a possible job.” shared Sgt. Royston.
The Auburn Junior High School student dreams of being a pediatric hematologist; Kounte loves math and science, so the only possession he was worried about possibly loosing in the fire was his calculator.
“What he wanted was his calculator, so we did find that for him, and we were happy to do it,” said Sgt. Royston.
Friday, September 25, Auburn Mayor Ron Anders Jr. and the Auburn Fire Department invited Kounte and his family to the fire station, where Kounte was honored for his bravery.
“Whereas Kounte’s reaction to the fire prevented a tragedy and his quick response assured his siblings’ health and safety and proved him to be a local hero. Therefore, I, Ron Anders, Junior Mayor of the City of Auburn, do proclaim September 25, 2020, to be Kounte Threadgill day in the City of Auburn,” proclaimed Mayor Anders.
Threadgill was also presented with the Auburn Public Safety Distinguished Citizens Award.
“What makes Auburn great are the people that live here of all ages and stages. Here is a young man that saw his family in peril and didn’t think twice about busting through the house and breaking his window to save the lives of his brother and sisters. What a great thing to celebrate,” shared Mayor Anders.
Amber Threadgill beamed as her son was presented with his two honors. She is thankful to Sgt. Ben Royston and the entire Auburn Fire Department helped her family the night of the fire and made sure her son was recognized by alerting city leaders of Kounte’s bravery.
“I am just so grateful for not only recognizing him but for all they did to help us. I just want to say thank you,” said Threadgill.
After the awards ceremony, the family had some fun with the firefighters. All had a lovely ‘Kounte Threadgill’ day.
The Threadgill family lost most of their other belongings in the fire. The family did not have insurance and remain without a permanent home. So far, the community has raised nearly 19-thousand dollars to help get them back on their feet. You can donate here: Threadgill Fire Relief Fund