Julie Black Oliver was wrapping presents at around 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 22 when she heard a noise outside of her house.
“I felt like it was a God thing, because usually I wouldn’t even look out the window, and something just told me to go out on the porch,” she said.
What she heard were the flames rising from a River Road Circle home starting at the carport.
Oliver called 911 and ran over to the house to alert the residents, Morgan, Kathy and William Mellette.
She yelled their names while banging on the doors and windows.
“Within five minutes, we’re standing on the street (and) the whole house is engulfed. If we hadn’t gotten out of there in five minutes, we would have all been dead,” Morgan Mellette said.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners recognized Oliver with an act of heroism proclamation Tuesday, April 23.
The Mellette family made it safely outside with their cat and two dogs.
“Not only did she save their lives and their pets’ lives, she rendered assistance, offered them blankets, water and a place to shelter their dogs for the evening, and remained with them throughout the entire ordeal while they watched the firefighters try to save their home,” according to the proclamation.
Oliver was surrounded by fellow members of the River Road Circle neighborhood and the Hall County Fire Services. Following the proclamation, the neighborhood residents enjoyed cake in an adjacent meeting room.
The Mellettes lauded the firefighters for their work in covering some of their belongings — including Boy Scout mementos and a Deshaun Watson poster — from being damaged.
Morgan Mellette called it “above and beyond the call of duty.”
Oliver said she was shocked to hear of the commission’s intent to recognize her.
“I didn’t feel like I deserved it. I’m just glad that I was able to help out,” she said.
Morgan Mellette said the family is in the process of rebuilding the home.
When speaking with an insurance representative, he was given three options: take the money and leave the house as is; repair the house to sell it; or rebuild it to live there once again.
“It’s not any question in my mind: we weren’t going anywhere. We want to be back in Hall County. We want to be in that neighborhood,” Morgan Mellette said.