Boy uses fire safety skills to escape Castle Shannon house fire with mom
When Ben Honsinger heard a stranger pounding on the door early Thursday and screaming that the house was on fire, the fourth-grader remembered the fire safety skills he learned at school and did not panic.
“They told us to stay low to the ground if there is a fire,” he said of the escape he and his mother, Melodie Honsinger, made unharmed from the burning duplex along Cooke Drive in Castle Shannon.
“I remembered that smoke always rises to the top, and the fresh air is always at the bottom. We got on the floor and crawled down the stairs and outside,” said Ben, 10, reflecting on the fire safety program held last year in Jubilee Christian School in Mt. Lebanon. He now attends St. Bernard School, also in Mt. Lebanon.
One firefighter suffered a neck injury when part of the ceiling collapsed in the other side of the duplex, which is vacant, said Castle Shannon fire Chief Bill Reffner.
The flames, which burned through the roof, were mostly contained to the vacant side, but the Honsinger home sustained smoke and water damage, he said.
The stranger — possibly a passer-by on his way to work — awakened Melodie Honsinger about 4:45 a.m. by pounding on the door, according to Reffner.
“He was screaming, ‘Fire! Fire! Get out! Your house in on fire!' There was smoke in the house,” said Honsinger, 35.
“Ben knew just what to do. He was actually very calm. He knew to stay low. He was great. He did a really good job.”
Her son admits, rather sheepishly, that looks can sometimes be deceiving.
“Actually, I was pretty scared, but I didn't show it,” the boy said.
Mother and son credit the fire safety program that Mt. Lebanon firefighters held in Jubilee Christian.
“Ben had homework assignments to draw up a plan of what to do if there is a fire and map out an escape route,” Melodie Honsinger said.
When he realized it was a real fire, her son said, “it all clicked.”
Reffner said the cause of the blaze remains under investigation, but it may have started in a bathroom fan in the vacant unit, which is undergoing renovations.
Firefighters from Castle Shannon, Mt. Lebanon, Bethel Park, Dormont and Whitehall took 20 minutes to bring the flames under control.
The chief said Mt. Lebanon firefighters are making plans to recognize Ben, who said he wants to be a forensic scientist or join the FBI when he grows up.
“If that doesn't work out,” Reffner said, “he is always welcome to join us.”
Michael Hasch is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7820 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff writer Margaret Harding contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers wrap lackluster preseason with loss to Panthers
- Young adults drive home rental trend in Western Pennsylvania
- Penguins confident Pouliot will be healthy, ready for camp
- August Wilson Center’s financial woes leave little guys in a lurch
- Steelers notebook: Safety Mitchell faces former team, hurts leg
- Government approves compromise on Corbett’s alternative Medicaid plan
- Preseason valuable for Steelers’ offensive line
- Pitt senior Weatherspoon’s work ethic second to none
- LaBar: Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts reportedly hospitalized
- Man stabbed to death outside North Side grocery
- Firefighters on scene at West Mifflin house fire