Beacon, NY — Five-year-old Matthew Hansen awoke at 4 am the day before Thanksgiving to find that his room was too dark.
“I need my eyes checked, Mommy, I can’t see,” he shouted.
His parents woke, despite being exhausted, when they heard their son shout. Christina Hansen, an emergency room nurse in New Rochelle, said, “He never wakes up at night.”
Her husband, Greg, a pilot at a Connecticut charter company, told him, “‘You can’t see because it’s dark out and you’re sleeping.’”
The 5-year-old said he knew the “clouds” in his eyes had nothing to do with the night or sleep. Between discussion with his parents and the fire prevention program at Sargent Elementary School, Matthew Hansen knew there was something wrong.
“I felt something and at school they told us what to do if your butt is ever on fire,” he said. “You stop, drop and roll. You’re never supposed to hide, and you’re always supposed to call for help. So I called my mom and dad.”
His mother heard him calling out, so she looked toward his room and saw smoke.
The child said, “Once my mom saw the smoke, she grabbed me out of my bed and started running down the stairs as fast as she could. The fireman at school said, ‘Stay calm,’ so I’m thinking well, OK. The house is on fire.”
“I’m just thinking, ‘Get him outside,’ but all he had on was a T-shirt and underwear and I didn’t want him to freeze,” the boy’s mother said.
While Matthew was outside in the cold, Greg and Christina Hansen were trying to get the kitchen fire under control.
The fire turned out to be started by cupcakes the father and son had made for a class birthday party.
“The school does parties once a month for all the birthdays, and we were in charge of cupcakes,” Hansen said. “They were on top of the stove in a carrier.”
The stove short-circuited and turned itself on, causing the carrier to catch fire.
Christina Hansen called the Fire Department and grabbed her son warmer clothes from a freshly laundered pile.
Matthew said, “I was happy when my mom brought my clothes.”
The Fire Department, police, and an ambulance showed up “within minutes.”
City of Beacon Fire Administrator Michael Davis said Matthew saved his family, his home and himself.
“Many people have died from lack of early detection,” Davis said. “This family was two minutes away from that, if not for Matthew waking up. The smoke would have blocked the stairwell.”
The Beacon City Council, Mayor Randy Casale, and the Fire Department will honor Matthew Hansen’s bravery soon, although details weren’t set on what type of recognition the kindergartner would get.