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6-year-old called 911 during fire

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news Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

When Christian Schmidt saw a grass fire get out of control on his grandfather's farm southwest of Cass Lake, he knew exactly what to do.

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Recalling what he learned in kindergarten, the 6-year-old boy helped his elderly aunt call 911.

On Friday, Fire Chief Tim Reiplinger of the Cass Lake Volunteer Rural Fire Association honored the Horace May Elementary School second-grader by presenting him with a plaque at a school assembly.

"Christian, you did a pretty good deed," Reiplinger told him at the assembly.

He said the boy's 87-year-old aunt, Rosalie Mitchell, didn't exactly know how to call for help when the grass fire got out of control last April at Virgil Foster's farm, destroying a shed along with the tractor, garden tiller and lawnmower inside.

"But Christian did," he said.

Christian, who is now 7 years old, said he learned how to call 911 in kindergarten by practicing on a fake telephone.

Fire service personnel visit schools every October to educate children on fire prevention and safety, Reiplinger said. He said Christian is an example of children grasping the concept of what to do in an emergency.

"I think it's great," he said.

Foster attended Friday's assembly at Horace May.

"This is such a great accomplishment for me to see a grandchild remember what he learned a year before," he said.

In an interview following the assembly, Foster recalled the day of the fire.

"I was on the fireman's board and we had a meeting when the alarm went off," said Foster, who also serves as a Cass County commissioner.

Foster said he and the firefighters took off for his farm.

Christian said he was scared at the time, and felt better when the firefighters arrived.

"I am so proud of him," said Brenda Schmidt, Christian's mother, who also attended the assembly. "He didn't question himself. He knew that's what had to be done and he did it."

Foster said Mitchell, who died in October, would have loved to have been at the assembly Friday.

"She never forgot it and neither has Christian," he said.

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