Fire Alarm Young Responders Are ‘Local Superheroes’

Brutus the Cake Snatcher Caused It
By DAVID BIGGY | Dec 11, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy ON CALL: Manahawkin youngsters (from left) Colton Davis with Brody, Landon and Avery Nacarlo are honored Dec. 3 by the Stafford Police Department for quick action to prevent a neighboring house from going up in flames.

Stafford Township — All Brutus wanted was a few cupcakes. The problem was they were left on the stovetop.

Thankfully, several quick-thinking youngsters lived next door.

“We’re really thankful to still have a home and everything in it,” said Abagail Pannullo, who was part of the celebration at Fusaro Pizza and Pasta in Manahawkin on Dec. 3, as the Stafford Police Department honored Colton Davis and Brody, Landon and Avery Nacarlo for their response to a fire inside the Pannullo home in October. “The kids did an awesome job and they saved our house from burning down.”

On Oct. 14, Columbus Day, Pannullo’s sister-in-law had been watching her three children while she was at Woodbridge High School, where she’s an English teacher. The Ring doorbell had continued to send alerts to her phone, and eventually she discovered a fire had been burning inside the kitchen.

“My sister-in-law and the children made cupcakes for Isaac’s birthday,” Pannullo explained. “But she’s not a dog owner, so she didn’t know not to leave them too close to the front of the stove. She left them there to cool and they went out to the park or something.”

The family’s boxer wanted in on the special treats and propped himself on the stove to get some. While he managed to snatch at least one of the cupcakes, he inadvertently ignited the gas on one of the burners, setting the cupcakes ablaze.

Fast forward some 30 minutes, when Avery Nacarlo heard a knock at the door as her brothers and family friend Colton were busy playing hide-and-seek.

“I was in the shower and Avery knocks to tell me somebody is at the door,” said Stephanie Nacarlo, the trio’s mother. “I told her to have Brody answer the door. A minute later, my son runs up the stairs and says the guy across the street told him Abby’s and Frank’s smoke alarms are going off. So, I told him to go over and take a look to see what was going on.”

Brody, Colton, Landon and Avery went over to the Academy Lane home in the Ocean Acres section of town to investigate.

“We saw the dog panicking at the window and heard the alarms,” said Brody, a sixth-grader at Stafford Intermediate School. “So, Colton went to check in the backyard and smelled smoke. Then we looked in the window and saw flames.”

Colton made the suggestion to call 911.

“I didn’t see a lot of flames, but it was enough,” he said. “I thought they might be cheeseburgers on the stove. But whatever they were, they were burning and we had to do something.”

Stafford police officers Ed Kunder and Andrew Moslowitz were sent to the scene.

“The kids handled the whole situation really well,” Kunder said. “By the time we got there, they were all out by the street and not near the house. They did the right thing. These are young kids, but they reacted the right way.”

Meanwhile, Stephanie Nacarlo was doing her best to keep their neighbor calm as the chaos unfolded and she could see it all happening on her phone.

“I saw all of them in my driveway, on the phone with 911,” Pannullo said. “I watched the fire department bust down our door. We were really worried about Brutus, because he didn’t know what had happened. It was traumatic to watch from an hour away.”

The fire was extinguished, Brutus was safe, and the house didn’t sustain any structural damage.

“We still managed to have a little birthday party for Isaac, even though the house smelled like a campfire,” Pannullo said. “If the kids weren’t home from school, who knows how bad it would have been?”

Community Policing Officer Marisa Lawrence said it was the first time in her 11 years with the department that a dog was responsible for causing a fire inside a home.

“We’re always looking out for kids doing things like this,” she said. “You’re never too young to make a difference, and these kids are outstanding role models for other kids their age. And because of their response to this emergency, especially since it was Fire Prevention Month, it gave us the idea to recognize them as local superheroes.”

Stafford Police Chief Thomas Dellane, Business Administrator Matthew von der Hayden and Councilman Thomas Steadman joined the celebration at Fusaro, where the four youngsters received plaques from the police department.

“We preach and teach in all our programs for kids that if you see something, say something, and their actions ended up saving the house,” Dellane said. “We spend a lot of time and effort in the schools and we don’t usually get much feedback on whether it’s working, but this definitely is proof that it does.”

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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