LONGVIEW, Wash. (KOIN) — Maggie Waits met an 8-year-old angel early on July 5. “I don’t even really know her, but she saved me.”
The angel is Janae Vonner-Tensley, a 3rd grader who lives just down the street from where Waits was renting a room at a home in the 300 block of Douglas in Longview. Around 1 a.m., she looked outside her bedroom window and spotted a house on fire.
“I ran to my dad and mom’s room and yelled at them to wake up,” she told KOIN 6 News.
Her dad, Antonio Tensley, was still awake. But he said it was the 4th of July and he didn’t think much about it.
“But then she goes, ‘There’s flames! I see flames!’ So as soon as she said, ‘I see flames,’ I looked out the window and the lady’s house was on fire. So we booked it down there.”
Tensley said he pounded and pounded on the front door “as hard as I could and screaming, ‘Hey! If there’s anyone in here you need to say something. Nobody answered. So I continued to bang and bang and bang until I almost knocked the door off the hinges. I was 2 seconds from kicking it in when she finally came to the door.”
Maggie Waits said she takes medications and was sound asleep. “The birds were freaking out, the smoke alarm was going off,” she said, but it was the pounding on the front door that finally woke her.
“His persistence beating on the door is what made me get up,” she said. “I’m glad he did.”
“Her house was fully engulfed, totally engulfed. There’s no way if she had stayed in her room she would have survived,” Tensley told KOIN 6 News. “And if she would have been in there, that would have been on me,” he said as he cried.
Longview Fire officials said the fire began at the back corner of the garage and spread to the house. It was ruled accidental and likely started from 4th of July fireworks.
Tensley said he saw kids playing with fireworks in the alley shortly before the fire began.
Maggie Waits is now staying with a friend. She said she lost everything but she has her life — and credits the girl she calls an angel.
“She means so much to me. I love that little girl. I love her,” she said. “I tell her when I see her there’s no amount of thank you in the world to repay her for what she’s done for me.”
Tensley agreed and said Janae is amazing. “I don’t tell her enough. But she is.”
“She gave me my life,” Wait said. “And so did her father.”