Kounte Threadgill given ‘Distinguished Citizen’ award

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Photo by Robert Noles/Opelika Observer

By Hannah Lester
hlester@opelikaobserver.com

Thirteeen-year-old Kounte Threadgill put words into actions when he saved his four siblings from a fire in his home in August.

The fire ripped through the family home on Aug. 26, with Kounte, his mother, his two little brothers, Kish and Koah, little sister, Kountees and the baby of the family, Kross, still inside.

Kounte saved all of his siblings.

“Late in the evening a fire was discovered in the hallway blocking their exit,” said John C. Lankford IV, Auburn Fire Chief. “Thinking quickly, Kounte grabbed three of his younger siblings, broke his bedroom window and crawled out the window to save them. Just as he exited, he remembered his youngest sibling was still inside. Kounte reentered the house, running through the fire, finding his brother still in his crib and once again retreated to safety.”

A ceremony was held to recognize Kounte inside the new Auburn Public Safety Building.

“We’re very proud that this is one of the first times that we’ve brought the public and brought the media over to this building to celebrate your actions Kounte,” said Auburn Mayor Ron Anders.

“I think actions such as yours deserve to be recognized and that’s what we’d like to do today,” Lankford said. “Today I’d like to present to you the City of Auburn Public Safety Distinguished Citizens Award.”

Additionally, Anders read a city of Auburn proclamation declaring Sept. 25, 2020 to be Kounte Threadgill Day.

“It feels amazing,” Kounte said. “… When people started calling me a hero over and over again, it made me feel really good.”

The hero has had time to reflect on the experience and he said it was almost like moving in slow motion, acting on instinct. 

Kounte’s younger brother’s birthday is Aug. 28, two days after the fire.

“If he would have died, we couldn’t have celebrated,” Kounte said.

The younger children, who now adoringly look up to their big brother, Kounte’s mother, Amber, said, were welcomed at the new public safety building. They were given plastic hats, gloves and stickers and given the opportunity to sit in the fire truck.

“They know that he saved them,” Amber said. “As soon as we came up, the six-year-old was like, ‘Bubba saved us. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Bubba.’”

Kounte’s two-year-old sister can’t sleep at night unless she sees him first, Amber said.

“I’m glad that they realized that it was he who saved them,” she said. “And to be honest, he saved me too. He didn’t physically put me out of the fire but he saved me too.”

Kounte explained that though the attention was slightly embarrassing, he was proud to rescue his family.

“I’m very grateful that he is getting the recognition that he deserves,” Amber said. “Because I don’t think he knows the gravity of the situation; he saved his entire family.”

The teen also thanked the public for the donations that have been made since the family’s home burned and the Auburn Fire Department for the work it does in the city. The family has a GoFundMe account where they are accepting donations (www.gofundme.com/f/threadgill-fire-relief-fund?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=sms&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1).

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