When Their Home Went Up in Flames, Aussie Talbott, 10, Saved Her Whole Family: 'Get Up!'

"Nobody knew anything because the fire was in the attic," says mom Kelly Rowe

Aussie Talbott
Aussie Talbott. Photo: WCIV

At about 4 a.m. this past April 21, Aussie Talbott woke up and noticed an orange glow outside her bedroom window. The fifth-grader quickly realized the unusually bright light was fiery flames on the front porch of her home in Summerville, South Carolina.

"I was scared," Aussie, 10, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "I didn't really know what to do except wake everybody up."

She began running from room to room, screaming: "The house is on fire! Get up!"

"It felt like a dream whenever she first came in, but you jump up and you run and you look and there's a fire," says Aussie's mom, Kelly Rowe, 35. "The dogs never barked. Nobody knew anything because the fire was in the attic."

After grabbing the family's two dogs, Aussie plus her mother, step-father and brother, 16, fled to a neighbor's yard. About two minutes later, they watched helplessly as the attic caved in while flames completely devoured their ranch-style home, "like dragons coming out of every hole," recalls Rowe.

Adds Aussie: "It was scary. And surprising. And sad."

There was one casualty: the family's beloved 240-pound potbelly pig, Mr. Piggles, who perished in the fire.

Aussie Talbott - Burned House
Fire damage to Aussie's house. Courtesy Talbott Family

Donna Moynihan, 63, Kelly's mom who also lives in Summerville, rushed over soon after the fire broke out.

"I spoke to some of the firefighters and they said it was about three minutes between a rescue and a recovery," says Moynihan. "It could have been four funerals or having this conversation right now."

Since that awful morning, Aussie's family has been rebuilding their lives.

For more on kids to the rescue, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

There's been plenty of help from Moynihan — who housed the family for two months until they found a new home five miles from their previous one. And the Summerville community showered them with gift cards, clothing and food, while the town recognized Aussie for her bravery.

Aussie —who enjoys karate, playing soccer and making art — realizes the enormity of saving her family.

"It's pretty awesome," she says.

"We're really thankful we're still here," says Rowe.

Adds Aussie's step-dad, Jon Rowe: "The way we view it is, it's not luck. She had an angel looking out for her that morning. There's no other explainable reason."

Updated by Steve Helling
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