As family and friends sift through the burned out shell of the mobile home in the Capitol Mobile Park just off Washington Boulevard in Elkridge, Milton Lopez copes with the fact that he's lost his home and most of their belongings, yet he counts himself lucky.
"Was anyone hurt or is everyone okay?"
"Everybody okay," he responded.
Okay, thanks to Lopez's 12-year-old daughter.
You see, Lopez had already gone to work, when the smoke alarm sounded, signaling a fire in the house, but Alixon Lopez Martinez, a seventh grader at Thomas Viaduct Middle School, was the only one awakened by it.
"I got off my bed and went to the living room and the couch was on fire, and what I did next, when I saw that I ran to my mom's room and told her there was a fire and she was with the baby and my sister and I helped her exit out of the back door," recounted the young girl.
Alixon says her grandmother had already made it out of the house, and once her mother, her eight-year-old sister and her baby sister, who is just a week old, were safe, she ran back into the burning structure and retrieved her cell phone to call 911.
Her heroism has left a mark on veteran firefighters.
"It is heartwarming, especially around this time of year, that a 12-year old girl would have the fortitude to recognize that she would have to wake up her mother who had an infant in the same room with her," said Battalion Chief Sean Alliger of Howard County Fire and Rescue Services.
It was a life-saving rescue, three times over, made possible by a working fire alarm and a quick-thinking young girl who put her own life at risk to save those she cares about the most.
"Thank God that I was awakened by that alarm to save my family and I was scared,” said Alixon, “I was in shock when I saw the fire."
Alixon still insisted on going to school today even though the fire destroyed her home, her belongings and forced the family to move in with some nearby relatives.
Investigators still haven't determined the cause of that fire.