Alex Steele, right, stands with sister Moira (center) and mother Kristin Carlson at the Essex County government center March 5.
A Westport senior was honored by the Essex County Board of Supervisors for his actions that got his sister out of their burning house in February.
Westport Supervisor Daniel Connell was joined by Essex County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish and Westport Fire Chief James Westover at the beginning of the March 5 meeting to present a resolution to Alex Steele, a senior at Westport Central School, for his actions in getting him and sister, Moira, out of their home Feb. 8.
"It's very nice, but I happened to be the one that woke up first," Steele said. "Initially, I was not sure what was happening, but the smoke was so thick that I knew something was wrong. I went to her room and slapped her feet like I would any morning, but this was a little more urgent."
"I think that it is lovely that they are honoring him," Moira said.
The county resolution passed to honor Steele is one of three planned, with accolades also being prepared by the Westport Volunteer Fire Department and the Town of Westport.
"It is such a pleasure to be here with this young man and to recognize his actions,' Connell said.
Steele said that the family has been adjusting to life following the fire, and have received a lot of help from their peers and community.
"The community has helped us a lot getting clothes and aid," Alex said. "It has been pretty bizarre and hectic since, but we have made a transition. My friends have been great, and we would not have a lot of things if it were not for our classmates, the faculty and the community."
"It was huge that my classmates would help out the way that they did," Moira said. "It has meant so much to out family and to me."
On the night of the fire, Alex Steele said that he awoke to the smell of the smoke and the sound of popping from the fire.
"My room is right under the kitchen, where the fire was, so I think that is why I heard and smelt it first," he said.
He then woke his sister and punched out a window that allowed them to get onto their back porch roof, from where they jumped to the ground.
"Just as she jumped, the windows in the kitchen just popped," Alex said. "We were lucky to get out when we did."
The Steele's then went to their landlords, Jerry Sherman, where the call was made to 911.