When a fire broke out at his Jefferson Hills home, Izaiah Sabori-Cole knew just what to do. He had learned in school how to respond to an emergency less than a week prior.
Making sure to follow every rule he was taught, Izaiah, 7, put on a pair of shoes, popped his head out the door and yelled for help.
When no one came, he ran across the street to a neighbor’s house, making certain he looked both ways as he crossed the street.
“I said, ‘Help, there’s a fire in my house. My grandma’s in the house,” Izaiah said.
For his heroism, Izaiah was recognized by the West Jefferson Hills School District at the May 28 school board meeting.
On May 29, first-grade teacher Brooke Hampsay organized a special recognition for the young hero at Gill Hall Elementary.
Firefighter Adam Galis of Jefferson Hills Fire Rescue, one of the first firefighters on the scene, visited Izaiah at school and let him wear his fireman’s hat.
Izaiah received a “Super Hero” medal from the Gill Hall staff and was recognized in a “Walk of Fame,” where he and Galis paraded through the school hallways.
Students lined the walls, chanting “Izaiah!” and giving him high fives.
“He’s an amazing child, inside and out,” Hampsay said. “He aced the task of life.”
In early April, Gill Hall hosted an ALICE intruder drill. During the training, they talked with students about how to respond to any emergency.
That stuck out to Izaiah, who can describe in detail sitting on the black line in the school gymnasium and learning from physical education teacher Laurie Conboy about how to get help.
He didn’t tell parents Laila and Fred Cole much about what he learned, other than that he saw the police and fire trucks at school.
Just a few days later, on April 15, Izaiah stayed home after school with his grandma at their Cassia Drive home, while mom and little brother Emir went to pick up dad in Oakland. He loved staying with grandma, he said. They go outside together and play dinosaurs versus dragons.
Izaiah remembers every detail of that day.
Grandma Cheryl Clark had something on the stove and went upstairs to grab a sweatshirt, while Izaiah played in the living room.
As grandma came downstairs, Izaiah got up to tell her something. That’s when he saw the flames.
He immediately sprung into action. He was in socks, so he grabbed grandma’s pink boots and put them on. He stayed calm and followed what he had been taught to get help, going to a neighbor’s.
The neighbor told him to stay at their house while the neighbor went and got grandma out, Izaiah said. Grandma was inside trying to round up the pets.
Unfortunately, Max the cat didn’t survive. Dog Lulu and cat Bobby made it out.
Laila and Fred were in Oakland when Laila’s mom called to tell her about the fire. They rushed home. The fire was mostly out by the time they arrived back to Jefferson Hills.
The kitchen, dining and living room were a total loss. The upstairs sustained damage. The home, which was insured, won’t be ready until at least October, Laila said.
The family now stays at a hotel.
Mom and dad still are impressed with Izaiah’s action and remain positive about the whole situation.
“It makes you feel good knowing you raised your kids right,” Laila said. “He did everything that he was supposed to … I’d much rather be grateful that at least we’re all together than cry. It’s not going to do me any good to cry.”
The school rallied around Izaiah. Teachers gathered supplies and gave him a new bookbag and everything he needed for school, since his supplies and bag were in the kitchen lost and to the flames.
At the end of the “Walk of Fame,” teachers gave the family about $475 they had raised, Hampsay said, and a kitchen set.
For Izaiah, it was important that the school taught emergency response.
“It’s in case if there’s a fire at anybody’s house, even my friend’s house, then they should know what to do,” he said.