15-year-old Lily Boyle helps family to safety during Burlington house fire

BURLINGTON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A teenager from Burlington is being called a lifesaver. Lily Boyle, 15, woke up last month to find her family's home on fire.

The fire was doubling every minute, but Lily managed to wake up five other people and get them all to safety. CBS 58 talked with Boyle and her family about that scary night, and we were there when she met the Burlington fire chief for the first time.

"Lily! Chief Babe, how are you?" Chief Alan Babe said as he shook Lily's hand.

People usually thank firefighters for their work.

"Awesome job you did that night," he said.

"Thanks. I tried my best," Lily replied.

But in this case, it was the other way around. Chief Babe commended Boyle for what she did on the freezing March night. Babe said it was extremely important she woke up when she did.

The story begins earlier that evening with a school play.

"So, I was in my high school play. It was Newsies," Boyle said.

The Friday night performance at Burlington High School was a cause for celebration.

"All my family was in town. We took up a whole row of seats," said Tim Boyle, Lily's dad.

Lily was eager to perform.

"I played one of the lead newsies. My name was Mush. It was kind of cute," she said with a smile.

But it was her role later that night, at the family's home on Oak Street in Burlington, that took center stage. 

"That's the first arriving engine company, the photo they took," Chief Babe said, holding out a cellphone photo of flames shooting through the roof.

Lily had woken up after 2 a.m. to a crackling sound.

"I could see this orange glow through the blinds, and I was like, uh-oh, that's never a good sign," she said.

A fire that started in the family's garage had spread to the house, and Lily sounded the alarm.

"I immediately ran to my parents' room and I just remember I slammed open the door and started banging on the wall, trying to make as much noise as I could," she said.

It worked. She woke up her parents, Tim and M.T., plus family friends who were spending the night. Not only did she wake everyone up, she also called 911, handing her mom the phone.

"I said to her, '911,' I said to her, 'our garage is on fire,' and I looked over and said, 'no,'" M.T. Boyle recalled. "I said 'Lily, your room is on fire,'  then I said 'this is spreading to our house, this is a house fire.'"

Rochester Volunteer Fire Company Chief Jack Bierman got the call and was the first on scene.

"I arrived, fire had already gone through the roof of the garage, it was going up the side of the house into the eaves," Bierman said.

Chief Babe was also there that night.

"That fire was burning for quite some time prior to our arrival," Babe said. "We could have been talking about some fatalities had she not woken up when she did."

Not only did Lily wake up, she also stayed calm and she knew what to do.

"You know, when you're little, they teach you about all this stuff, and it's like you kind of have a plan," she said.

The garage and the home are both a total loss. Lily's bedroom doesn't have walls or a ceiling anymore. The family did manage to save some photographs and journals.

"I wish I could have maybe done more, but you can't," Lily said.

Most importantly, though, the family is safe.

"It's surreal and you can't believe it's happening, but then when you start thinking about what it could have been, and it's still hitting me, as you can see," Tim said, tearing up.

"If it hadn't been for her, this could have been a very different outcome. She's a lifesaver. She's a lifesaver," M.T. agreed.

The cause of the fire hasn't been determined, and the home did have smoke alarms. The Boyle family said they're also thankful to the town of Burlington for all of the support they've gotten since the fire.

"This city is amazing. The people and the community, I was born and raised here, and I've always known that. And I think everybody should know it," Tim said.

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