Dracut teen saves mom from fire

Grandmother: 'He saved my daughter's life'

From left, Ethan Oakes, Skyla Oakes, Emma Oakes, Carolann Oakes, and Joshua Oakes Jr. Joshua pulled his mother, Carolann, from the family’s Dracut home on Wednesday afternoon after she lost consciousness while trying to extinguish a fire that had broken out in a bedroom. Meanwhile, Skyla called 911 to get firefighters to the scene.
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From left, Ethan Oakes, Skyla Oakes, Emma Oakes, Carolann Oakes, and Joshua Oakes Jr. Joshua pulled his mother, Carolann, from the family’s Dracut home on Wednesday afternoon after she lost consciousness while trying to extinguish a fire that had broken out in a bedroom. Meanwhile, Skyla called 911 to get firefighters to the scene.

A 13-year-old Dracut boy saved his mother from a fire in the family’s home on Varnum Avenue Wednesday afternoon after she lost consciousness while trying to battle the flames, according to a family member.

Dracut firefighters were called to 152 Varnum Ave. Wednesday at about 1 p.m. by a teenage girl’s 911 call, according to Deputy Chief Thomas Mackey.

“One of the children that lived there called 911 stating she heard (smoke) detectors going off and smoke was filling the upstairs,” Mackey said.

A fire had broken out in a bedroom of the ranch-style home, and an early-dismissal day for Dracut schools meant the mother of the family and four of her children were home at the time, Mackey said.

The Oakes’ family home at 152 Varnum Ave., in Dracut. It will be months before the family can get back into the fire damaged home, so family members and state Rep. Colleen Garry are helping them to raise money to recover and replace belongings, and to find rental housing in Dracut while their home is repaired. SUN/Robert Mills

The mother, Carolann Oakes, helped all of her children and the family’s pets escape, but then remained in the house so she could attempt to use a fire extinguisher to put out the blaze, according to Oakes’ mother, Nancy Walsh. The heat and smoke quickly overwhelmed Oakes, though, and she lost consciousness, according to Walsh.

“She was overcome by smoke and heat,” Mackey said.

Walsh said it was her 13-year-old grandson, Joshua Oakes Jr., who went back inside the home and dragged his mother out after realizing something was amiss.

“He saw her lying on the floor and dragged her out,” Walsh said. “He saved my daughter’s life.”

Joshua Oakes Jr., 13, and his sister Skyla Oakes, 15. When the family’s Dracut home caught fire on Wednesday, Skyla called 911 and her brother dragged his mother out of the home after she lost consciousness while trying to battle the flames. Coutesy Photo

Mackey said crews arrived at the blaze and discovered the mother was suffering from smoke inhalation that required her to be taken to Lowell General Hospital and then airlifted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital by MedFlight. She has since recovered well, according to Mackey and Walsh.

Mackey said Dracut firefighters were able to knock down the fire in about 20 minutes. Off-duty Dracut firefighters were called in to cover Dracut fire stations while other crews battled the blaze.

An investigation by Dracut firefighters and the state Fire Marshal’s Office has determined the cause was accidental, Mackey said.

Mackey said smoke and heat damage left the home uninhabitable. He praised the teenage girl who called 911. Walsh identified her as 15-year-old Skyla Oakes.

“I listened to her call and she was very calm on the phone considering her house was on fire,” Mackey said.

From left, Emma, Skyla, Ethan and Joshua Oakes Jr., in a family photo together. Skyla called 911 when the family’s home in Dracut caught fire on Wednesday, and Joshua Jr., dragged his mother from the home and saved her life after she lost conciousness while trying to battle the flames. The mother, Carolann, had made sure all of her children and pets escaped the home safely before she remained inside to try to put out the fire. Courtesy photo

Walsh said in a Facebook post that the family will be unable to return to the home for quite some time, and that the family is raising money to help recover from the fire via GoFundMe. The family includes 6-year-old twins in addition to the 13-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter, Walsh said.

State Rep. Colleen Garry, D-Dracut, is assisting the family’s recovery effort, and is collecting gift cards for the family at her office at 101 Broadway Road, Suite 11, in Dracut. Garry is also working to help the family find a rental home in Dracut so they can stay in town while their home is repaired.

Garry, too, praised the young man who saved his mother.

“The presence of mind to do that was incredible,” Garry said.

To contribute to the family’s fundraising effort, visit: www.gofundme.com/f/oakes-family-in-need.