Teen acts quickly when faced with fire

Hannah Tanzer calls 9-1-1, her mother and the homeowner
by: Contributed photo Hannah Tanzer is being praised for quick action during a fire at her neighbor's house.

A woman whose Damascus home was destroyed by a fire on Wednesday, Aug. 31, calls the neighbor girl who alerted firefighters to the blaze a hero.

Hannah Tanzer, 13, happened to be sitting in her bedroom that afternoon and heard a popping noise similar to that of a campfire. She looked out her bedroom window, which overlooks the neighbor's rear deck, and saw that it was on fire.

Tanzer ran outside, terrified that the family of five that lives there - Julie and John Poetsch, and their three sons in the 10th, third and first grades - might be inside.

She heard the family's barbecue explode, followed by a bunch of little pops. But there didn't appear to be anyone home.

Then she noticed another neighbor getting her mail and yelled at her to call 9-1-1.

With that, Tanzer followed her own advice. She ran back inside her house and called 9-1-1, after which she called her mother, who wasn't home at the time.

Then, Tanzer called Julie Poetsch. The girl happened to have the woman's cell phone number programmed into her own cell phone because she's baby sat the younger Poetsch boys.

'You need to come home, your house is on fire,' the girl said.

Poetsch was leaving her teaching job at Hall Elementary School when she got the shocking phone call.

'We were lucky,' said Poetsch, whose family moved into the house in the 15600 block of Southeast Cielo Court a year ago. 'She's the only neighbor whose number I had on my cell phone.'

Plus, Poetsch planned to drop off some teaching supplies at a friend's house on her way home. Without Tanzer's call, she'd have been delayed getting home.

The fire destroyed the house and most of its contents, displacing the family. Although the house is insured, it will take months, if not a year, to rebuild. In the meantime, the family is moving into a rental house.

'Lots of people, especially in Damascus, have come out of the woodwork to help us,' Poetsch said. 'And so have our friends.'

Now that the smoke has cleared and the dust settled, Poetsch feels that Tanzer 'deserves a special something.

'I just think that is pretty amazing for a 13-year-old girl to act so quickly and responsibly to call 9-1-1, her mom and me,' Poetsch said. 'She didn't panic. She did everything she should have - by herself!'

Tanzer's proud mother - who after getting her daughter's call rushed home and tried to extinguish the fire with a garden hose - agreed with Poetsch.

'I don't think every kid would have the wherewithal to take the initiative to make the call,' said Rosemary Tanzer, adding, 'I can't imagine getting a call like that. It was scary.'

Tanzer, an eighth-grader at Damascus Middle School, said 'Aww,' when told of her neighbor's kind words. But she doesn't think she did anything extraordinary.

'Anyone would have called 9-1-1,' she said, adding that its 'common knowledge' to call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. 'It was just luck that I was home. I'm just happy I was here.'

To help

• Family friend Julie Frediani is collecting gift cards for the family. Cards from establishments such as Safeway, Fred Meyer, Kohl's, McDonald's, pizza parlors and any local restaurant or store would be appreciated.

Gift cards also can be purchased through the scrip program at any school in the Gresham-Barlow School District. Cards can be mailed to the family in care of Julie Frediani at P.O. Box 372, Gresham, 97030.