Essex Teen Saves Lives Of Family Members In Fire

ESSEX, Md. (WJZ) — An Essex teenager was shy when asked about how he saved the lives of his little brother and grandparents Thursday morning.

Suzanne Collins explains the family was rescued from a raging fire in their Essex home.

The fire started downstairs, so 15-year-old Charlie Knisley was first to notice. His grandmother — who had the boys for the night — let him sleep on the couch to watch the O’s game.

“It felt a little hot and I felt a sizzling noise. I woke up and it was kinda like you could see smoke, so I started yelling and nobody was answering,” said Charlie Knisley III.

Knisley awakened the others. His 10-year-old brother jumped into his arms from the second floor and his grandparents got to safety.

“As soon as they jumped from the windows, the windows just burst out in the house and flames started coming from left and right,” said Knisley.

The boys’ father raced to the scene, not knowing the fate of his children or his wife’s parents.

“I think I ripped all the skin off of my feet because I was running barefooted. I just ran down the street and as soon as I turned the corner, I could feel the heat off the house,” said Charlie Knisley Jr., children’s father.

When the father arrived at the neighbor’s home, everyone was safe there.

“I’m proud of him. My father just passed away and he said that he woke him and told him wake everybody up and get ’em out of the house,” said Knisley Jr.

The father says he now knows his son is a man and could take care of all three of his little brothers if he had to.

According to family, the grandparents will be OK. Mary Falkner has some leg injuries after jumping from the window, and her husband David is getting some oxygen.

The whole family is so proud of the teen who is shy and embarrassed by all the attention.

“He saved their lives. If it weren’t for him they probably wouldn’t be here today,” said Jason Blackburn, uncle.

It was an emotional time outside the emergency room as the grandparents recover.

The Essex Senior Center located at 600 Dorsey Avenue is taking donations for the family to get back on their feet. For more information call 410-887-0267.


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