Published 12:03 am Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Future firefighter D.J. Crowder, 4, sits outside of the Packer Avenue home that burned in a fire last week. Crowder is credited with waking his mother who made the 911 call for help.



“I da man” – or at least that’s 4-year-old D.J. Crowder’s opinion of himself after family and friends credited him with alerting his mother to the 3 a.m. fire next door to their Packer Avenue home last week.

His prompt action, which spurred a 911 call by his mother, Davana, for help, and the quick thinking of another set of neighbors, in all likelihood saved Betty Hattaway’s life.

Once firefighters arrived on scene, the fire was quickly extinguished; however, fire officials deemed the home and its contents “a complete loss.” Damage wasn’t contained to the property. Heat from the fire melted the siding on the home next door, and owners said Hattaway escaped “with only the clothes on her back.”

Mrs. Crowder said her son, who is a student at Bright Beginnings Preschool, had been sick earlier that night with a stomach virus. She said she’d put D.J.’s two sisters, age 1 and 7, to bed, and she and her son snuggled down for the night in the master bedroom. She said it wasn’t long before being shaken awake by her son.

“He said, ‘Look Mommy, that house is on fire,’” she said. “Our window faces the side of Mrs. Hattaway’s house, and sure enough, when I looked out, there were flames everywhere.”

Mrs. Crowder said she immediately called 911, and “15 second later,” help arrived.

“The cop showed up and said the lady on the other side had gotten Mrs. Hattaway out, but that we had to get out of the house because the gas line was on fire.

“I grabbed my 1-year-old and my other daughter, and the cop picked up ‘Bubby,’ and as soon as we stepped off the porch, the windows next door blew out,” she said. “And we ran.”

Through it all, D.J. said he was “cool.” He said his teachers, Mrs. G. and Mrs. Linda, and his paramedic father, taught him what to do in case of an emergency.

“I only 4. I can’t dial the phone, but I can get somebody,” he said.

“The fire scared me a little bit,” he said. “Now, I not scared of nothin’. I asked that cop to tote me back home ‘cause I ain’t got no shoes on. I don’t like stuff on my feet.”

D.J. got his wish and a new moniker – hero.

“The policeman carried him home and when he sat him down, called (D.J.) a ‘hero,’ because if he hadn’t gotten me up, things could have been worse because the 911 call wasn’t made sooner,” Mrs. Crowder said.

D.J. said he wants to be a paramedic and a firefighter when he grows up.

“They got the coolest hats and trucks,” he said. “I take care of people. I take care of my mom and make her peanut butter sandwiches. I da man.”

D.J. is the grandson of Jeffrey and Edna Kilcrease of Florala.