LLANO, Texas (KXAN) — Frank Machuga fights back tears describing his oldest daughter, Abby, as a hero for the quick action she took last week.
“A hero does things in those points in time, in those moments when they have to,” Machuga said. “And she did everything.”
Early on the morning of March 12, Machuga and his wife, Lisa, went to work and left their four children at home during spring break. Abby, 14, got up and ate some cereal, then heard what sounded like a scream coming from her younger sister’s bedroom.
When Abby opened the door, she found out the screeching sound came from flames shooting out of the wall from an apparent electrical fire.
What she did next astounded her father.
“I don’t know if I’d have been as level-headed,” Machuga explained. “[Abby] brushed the fire off her clothing, grabbed her sister out of bed, had to go back through the fire, which was right at the door.”
Abby carried Anna, 9, outside and gave her a cell phone, telling her to call their mother. With smoke and fire quickly filling the house, Abby made two more trips inside: to save her brothers and a family cat, Sooner.
“This hero stuff has its limits, but she went in. She pulled that cat out, leaving only one in the house for the firemen to save. They’ve gotta save something, you know?”
The family’s insurance agent went through the heavily damaged home Thursday and told them it’s a total loss. Right now the family of six is staying at a hotel in Marble Falls, and they plan to repair all the damage from the fire.The discovery of asbestos, however, will slow down the rebuilding process.
“We picked the right place to land,” he said. “There’s a lot of folks here to make sure they’ll catch you if you fall.”
Abby, a freshman at Llano High School, could not talk to KXAN Thursday because her mother took her to a hospital to deal with some ongoing issues related to a recent bout of bronchitis. Her family worried that all the smoke inhalation from the fire may have made things worse. Doctors, however, told her Thursday she should make a full recovery.
Neighbors, teachers, school administrators and others in the community have offered help and support to the family, moving quickly to make sure they have everything from meals to clothing.
Someone even set up an online fundraiser through GoFundMe to help the family get back on its feet.
Machuga said his family is thankful for all the community support and most importantly, their safety.
“[Abby] saved the whole family, all the kids, without hesitation, without thinking,” he said, tearing up.
“It was the greatest hero I’ve ever met.”