On the afternoon of Sunday, March 24, 16-year-old Jackson Fischer was sitting with his sister watching basketball on TV, when suddenly he got the urge to check outside and see if the weather was as nice as it seemed.
But as he stepped out onto the deck of his family’s home off of Echols Road in Forsyth County, Fischer saw that the woods in his backyard were rapidly filling with smoke. Fischer knew that something was wrong and that he needed to help.
According to a fire department report, the smoke was from a large brush fire in an adjoining yard, starting from a small limb fire that a neighbor had started earlier in the afternoon and had left alone believing it to be fully extinguished.
When Fischer, a freshman at Alliance Academy of Innovation, saw the smoke and flames which had already consumed nearly an acre of woods between his home, he and his 19-year-old sister, Jessica, jumped into action and called 911.
But instead of just waiting for the fire department to arrive, Fischer said he ran down to the area to knock on his neighbor’s doors and alert them. No one was home, so he found a nearby garden hose and sprayed the approaching flames.
Fischer was a little scared when he approached the flames and didn't know exactly what to do, he said, but he knew the hose might do something to stop the flames from spreading.
"Underneath the car was on fire, and underneath the shed was on fire, so I put that part out," Jackson Fischer said. "I just didn't want that guy's house to catch on fire, or ours.”
At one point, Fischer even ran back to his house to grab a longer garden hose to stop the fire from spreading further.
"I didn't want it to spread any further onto our property, because 50 feet away from it was a big pile of old pine trees, and that would have gone up big,” he said. "I just sprayed the outsides of it, because I knew I couldn't put it out, and so it wouldn’t spread.”
Fischer’s parents, John and Debra, were away for the day, but a family friend, John Sarrica, ran over to help.
Sarrica was amazed at how well Fischer handled the situation.
"He had it under control ... He stopped it over by that house, started watering the perimeter, got another hose so he could get around over there more – you know, really took the initiative to make sure it didn't hit anything else," Sarrica said. "I saw him jump to action basically … He's an extraordinary kid."
By the time the fire near Fischer’s neighbor's car and shed had been put out, several brush trucks from the Forsyth County Fire Department arrived on scene and took control of the fire, extinguishing it using their specialized equipment.
After the incident, Division Chief Jason Shivers, a fire department spokesman, praised Fischer’s alertness and the swiftness of his actions, stating that they likely prevented more or worse damage from happening.
“We are certainly appreciative of Jackson’s efforts in controlling the fast-moving grass fire prior to the arrival of our companies,” Shivers said. “His actions likely prevented the fire from spreading to more properties and potentially saved one or more homes from being damaged.”
Shivers also cautioned that this time of year is when grass and brush fires grow more likely and less controllable due to low humidity, warming temperatures and wind gusts.
“We remind everyone to be mindful of the local outdoor burning regulations and the requirement for a burn permit,” Shivers said. “As always, when in doubt or if a fire gets out of control, call 911 immediately.”
Like Sarrica, after the incident, Fischer’s parents said that they were proud but unsurprised at their son’s actions.
"It really doesn't surprise me what he did. He's like his dad, and he’s always thinking of other people; he'll help anybody," Debra Fischer said. “I know he's a good kid, but you never know when push comes to shove or there’s an emergency, do they have it in them? … I don't think a lot of kids his age would do what he did."