San Jose girl, 11, saves family from house fire

San Jose firefighters are crediting an 11-year-old girl for saving her family from a house fire early Thursday morning, and she's crediting a TV show for her brave actions.

"I usually see [ what to do] on Chicago Fire," Berlin Gomez Muniz said, referring to the series, now in its eight season, that tells dramatic stories of the rescue squad and paramedics of Chicago Firehouse 51.  "I just see on TV what I should do to make sure we all get out."

The 6th grader at Hoover Elementary School ran to wake up her sister, parents and grandmother when she started to smell thick, black smoke filling her room just before 7 a.m. at her grandma's home on the 800 block of N. 19th Street. The family has been staying with Grandma Leslie Muniz, to help her out. They live not too far away in San Jose, though they have also been displaced after the Coyote Creek flood two winters ago.

 "I woke up my sister to make sure she got out of house," Berlin recounted calmly as firefighters stamped out hot spots on her damaged roof. "I screamed, 'Daddy,' three or four times."

Berlin Gomez Muniz's dad hugs her after she saved the family from a house fire in San Jose. Dec. 19, 2019

She said she and her sister "sprinted" outside of the house, and then she went back in to make sure her parents and grandmother were OK. All five family members got out safely, though their house appeared to suffer great damage. As she told her story, her dad, Gabriel Muniz, came up to his daughter, swelling with pride. "I love you," he said, kissing her on the top of her head. 

"Love you too, Dad," she said.

Then she returned to her interview. 

"I feel really good," she said. "The whole time, I was just thinking about my family to make sure they were safe and out of the house.

Assistant San Jose Fire Chief Reggie Williams said this story has an "incredible ending" and he credited the capability of such a young person to have the presence of mind to think clearly and act calmly during an emergency. 

"She was very attentive and alert," he said. "She was capable of waking everyone up and getting them out safely. In this case, a smoke detector wasn't heard. But the family was awakened by an 11-year-old girl." 

The fire started in the living room. As for the cause? Williams said it's too early to tell, but he did remind everyone that Christmas trees can be quite flammable and they need to be well watered and away from electrical appliances at all times.

He noted that this fire occurred six days before Christmas, and even though Berlin's family is now dealing with the Red Cross and staying with relatives for a while and the family cat died, they were still given a great gift.

"She gave them the best Christmas ever," Williams said. "The gift of life."

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED: The family has started a GoFundMe page to replace their lost items. 

KTVU's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.

Muniz family members cry after their grandmother's house burned down in San Jose. Dec. 19, 2019

Two women hug after a fire in a San Jose living room destroys a house. Dec. 19, 2019

Assistant San Jose Fire Chief Reggie Williams said this story has an "incredible ending" and he credited the capability of such a young person to have the presence of mind to think clearly and act calmly during an emergency. Dec. 19, 2019

As for how the fire started? It's too early to tell, but he did remind everyone that Christmas trees can be quite flammable and they need to be well watered and away from electrical appliances at all times.

The 6th grader ran to wake up her sister and parents when she started to smell thick, black smoke filling her room just before 7 a.m. at her family home on the 800 block of N. 19th Street. Dec. 19, 2019

Berlin's family is now dealing with the Red Cross and staying with relatives for a while and the family cat died. Dec. 19, 2019