GIBSON CITY, Ill. (WCIA) — A teenager narrowly makes it out of a massive apartment all because of a brave choice made in a moment of fear. Fire crews spent nearly eight hours dousing flames at an apartment building in Gibson City last week.
Dakota DuVall says she woke up to shouts from outside and flames in the hall. She knew she only had minutes left to decide if she was going to be caught in them.
“If I can see that orange glow then that fire is right in front of my door. So, I kind of stopped. Do I open the door? What do I do?” said DuVall.
She says she went against everything she was taught and opened it. The smoke was so thick she couldn’t see her neighbor who was calling out to her from the other side of the hallway.
“All of that was engulfed in flames. The walls were engulfed in flames. The ceiling, the floor,” said DuVall. “My first thought was that’s it. this ceiling is going to come down right in front of me.”
The ceiling did come down. The debris missed DuVall, but she knew she needed to run. She ran along the edge of the hallway until she reached the front of the building and was able to get out.
DuVall’s mom, Heidi Duvall, rushed downtown as soon as she heard what was happening.
“I am just blown away. I think as a grown adult in my situation. If I had been her, I probably would have just froze,” said Heidi DuVall.
Dakota DuVall said she’s thankful to be alive, but she had to leave everything behind: her pets, her grandfather’s urn, and the GCMS graduation gown she was supposed to wear this coming weekend.
“It was kind of a few hours after I got out of the building somebody came up to me and said the school had already said you got a new cap and gown,” said DuVall.
As DuVall prepares to walk across the stage, she’s focused on healing and protecting her mental health.
“That’s all I could think of I see there and replay it all the time,” said DuVall. “I can just see the flames in front of me all the time. And I’m just like how you got out of there.”