LONDONDERRY — She is a normal, exuberant teen that loves sleepovers with friends, her family and pets.
She's also being honored as a hero for her quick-thinking last summer after the family's Hovey Road home caught fire.
Kailyn Carkhuff, 13, will be honored with an "Everyday Heroes" award, celebrating New Hampshire citizens doing extraordinary things. The awards are given by Unitil and the American Red Cross. The event is April 17 in Concord.
It was in June last year when eighth-grader Kailyn, a friend, and her little sister were having a sleepover, deciding to have fun and sleep in the upstairs family room area on a large couch. Her parents and a young cousin were sleeping downstairs and an older brother's room was on the other side of the home.
After watching movies and talking, the girls fell asleep around midnight.
The next morning, around 5 a.m., Kailyn said she awoke abruptly after hearing a noise.
"It was like a pop, I woke up, I looked and my porch was on fire," she said.
The three-season porch at the rear of the home was burning, the teen said, adding it was still dark outside.
Kailyn woke up her friend, picked up her sister and guided them outside. She then ran back in and down the stairs to where her parents and cousin were sleeping and woke them up, telling them about the fire. The flames by then had spread to half of the home's second floor.
"At the time I didn't feel scared, I knew I had to get out," she said. "Later I felt a bit scared."
Kailyn said it was only a few minutes that had passed and, when back outside, she then headed to the rear of the home, thinking she might be able to somehow use the hose to help put out the fire.
"I was standing in the yard," she said. "I was dragging the hose, but it was too hot."
Her mother Carissa said she didn't see her older son Caileb outside and ran back in to find him, forcing them to jump from a bedroom window to safety as fire and smoke spread through the home.
The family eventually all were reunited and safe, including two dogs and two cats, as fire crews arrived. They went down the street to a neighbor's home while firefighters handled the flames.
The home's fire detectors were not operating at the time of the fire, Carissa said, but now the family has new detectors with loud signals that will warn everyone to get out of the house.
Kailyn is one of nine that will get the "Everyday Heroes" award in Concord. Other honorees include the youngest female runner in Boston Marathon history raising money on behalf of her grandfather; four utility workers whose training and quick thinking saved a man's life; a husband and wife who started a sled hockey team to help disabled veterans, and a teacher who started a blood drive in honor of her first-grade student.
"We are extremely proud to partner with the American Red Cross in recognizing these extraordinary individuals," Unitil Vice President of Communications Carol Valianti said. "They are truly everyday heroes who have made a significant impact on the lives of others."
After the fire, the Carkhuff family spent months living with family members and also rented a condo thanks to the support of Londonderry Middle School staff. After much renovation to the home, the family returned this past December. Kailyn found out about her award on Christmas.
"I was really excited that I could be back home," she said. "But I was scared it would happen again."
Carissa is thankful her daughter woke up when she did and saw the fire. She can't help but think of what might have happened if the girls had been sleeping in another part of the home.
"It took me a while to get over that," she said. "I'm so thankful she heard that noise."
For Kailyn, it was something she knew she had to do. She won't be accepting the award in person, as her class is heading to Washington, D.C., but her family will be there to celebrate.
Londonderry fire department representatives, including Chief Darren O'Brien, will also be at the awards ceremony honoring Kailyn.
O'Brien said what Kailyn did last summer is deserving of the award.
"It's definitely heartfelt to know this little girl had the common sense to help," O'Brien said. "She's definitely a hero."