Mom saves toddler from flames

House destroyed; 2-year-old in hospital
Feb. 07, 2013 @ 08:11 AM

Monica Hollar awoke about 3:20 a.m. Wednesday in her first-floor bedroom to the shrill cry of a smoke detector. She raced up the staircase of the family's 120-year-old, wood-frame farmhouse, to find smoke pouring from the bedroom of her 2-year-old daughter, Aislyn.

A fire had started from the stove pipe leading from the house's old wood stove, which was directly underneath Aislyn's room, said Marla Eller, Hollar's mother. Eller said that Hollar told her that when she reached the top of the stairs, her 4-year-old son, Elijah, stood outside his sister's burning room.

“He wasn’t going to move without knowing his sister was safe,” Marla Eller said, recounting her daughter's story, but the bedroom was full of smoke and flames. Hollar couldn't see through it.

Hollar, 34, dropped to the floor in the smoky darkness and blindly groped, eventually finding Aislyn on the floor, unconscious, Eller said. She scooped her daughter up into her arms and led Elijah down the stairs to safety.

Firefighters from the Little River, Valmead and Sawmills fire departments were called. Some remained there until about 8:30 a.m.

Hollar and Aislyn were taken to Caldwell Memorial Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. Aislyn was then flown to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Eller said Aislyn was in the pediatric intensive care unit but was expected to recover. A spokeswoman for the hospital said Wednesday that Aislyn was listed in fair condition

Damage to the longtime family homestead on a grassy knoll is estimated at $60,000 or more, in monetary terms. But after four generations occupying the house since 1946, the tangible links to history now reduced to ashes and memories are immeasurable. In Aislyn's bedroom had been a huge chest of drawers, filled with dolls, Marla Eller said. Now gone.

The old house's walls, empty of insulation, had been used by Eller's husband, Dennis, and his two brothers when they were young as places to stuff little toys. From time to time a household project brought the re-discovery of a long-forgotten toy. Those too now are gone.

“We’re mostly relieved everyone’s going to be fine,” Eller said. “But we’re a very close family. This was her grandfather’s house. This is very, very sad. There are so many memories.”