Seven-year-old Choctaw girl saves family from devastating house fire

By Shelia Kirven
March 1, 2022

A seven-year-old Choctaw girl’s gut feeling and quick thinking saved the lives of her family in Checotah, Oklahoma, on February 2, when a fire destroyed their home and everything they owned.

Joella Silva, Ava Fitgerald’s mother, said, “Ava was supposed to be staying at a friend’s house that night, and she came home because she said she had a feeling something was wrong. So we let her sleep in the living room which we never let her do, she usually sleeps in her bedroom, but the living room is right next to our garage. She woke up because she heard crackling and saw orange through our window and saw that the kitchen was on fire.”
Ava’s bedroom was by the kitchen.

According to Silvia, “If she hadn’t been sleeping in the living room, she could have possibly been trapped in her room, or she couldn’t have even heard it.” Silva explained that Ava went outside to see what the red was outside that she was seeing.

“She saw that our garage was totally up in flames, so she ran back into the house and woke up everyone,” said Silva. Inside the house were her parents, Brandon and Joella, and her five-month-old brother, Calvin.

“I could tell something was wrong because she was yelling, and she never does that unless something is really wrong,” said Ava’s mom. “We weren’t able to grab anything because our house wasn’t completely on fire yet, so I figured they would be able to save it. We ran outside and we didn’t even have shoes on.”

Once the family was safely outside, a Creek Nation Lighthorseman who had been driving on a nearby road and spotted the smoke and flames and called the fire department.

Joella explained that the firefighters had difficulty fighting the fire due to extreme temperatures as fire hydrants were frozen up and there wasn’t time to get a water tank onsite before the house was a total loss.
The family of four has since moved in with a friend. The community has helped with donations of immediate needs, and Ava’s family is trying to save up for a down-payment to purchase a home since they were renting at the time of the fire.

The traumatic event has been devasting to the family. Since the fire, Ava has been sticking very close to her family. The Checotah Perk Coffee Shop in Checotah, Oklahoma, is currently accepting donations and has a list of needed items by the family and a GoFundMe page has also been set up for the family.


Fitzgerald Family
Photo Provided

Seven-year-old Ava Fitzgerald's quick actions saved her family from a recent house fire that totally destroyed their home.