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McKinley Student Honored for Saving Family from Fire

Santa Barbara fire officials present an honorary department blanket to sixth-grader Marissa Huerta

On Jan. 4, KEYT ran the story about sixth-grader Marissa Huerta, who alerted her parents to a fire in their apartment complex on New Year’s Eve.

When interviewed, Marissa said that when she heard and smelled the smoke, she acted quickly to alert her parents. She said she remembered the fire safety tips she learned when she was in third grade and went through the City of Santa Barbara Fire Safety House Program.

Marissa is now ready to graduate from elementary school, but not without the acknowledgement of the Santa Barbara City Fire Department. On Wednesday, the Fire Safety House was scheduled for McKinley Elementary School, so Fire Chief Andrew DiMizio made a surprise visit to honor the student.

The fire chief presented Marissa with a certificate and a City of Santa Barbara Fire Department blanket that has the department patch on it. DiMizio stated that the fire blankets are rarely given out, except for very special acknowledgements. He thanked Marissa for a job well done and said he was proud of how she had taken what she had learned and used it to help her family.

This year the Fire Safety House Program will visit eleven different schools within the City of Santa Barbara. Over 500 third graders will go through the hands on training. Originally funded by a grant from the Santa Barbara Foundation in 1998, the Fire Safety House program has taught fire safety skills to over 5,000 Santa Barbara School District students.

Pictured left to right is Fire Chief Andrew DiMizio, Marissa Huerta, Firefighters Mike de Ponce, Spencer Simonds, and Jack Franklin.

— Mike de Ponce is a captain for the Santa Barbara City Fire Department.


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