Sophia M. Righthouse Day proclaimed in light of fire rescue

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Sophia Righthouse (9) never thought she would ever have to use her disaster training.

Over the summer, Righthouse spent a week in San Bernardino at FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), a Young Marines youth camp. There, she learned about how to react during natural disasters, such as fires, that are common to California.

And so, when she saw the smoke plume from the  structure fire at the garage of a building in the Soft Canyon Hills condo complexes on November 4, 2017 at 7  a.m. while driving on Black Mountain Road, she instantly recognized the type of fire it was and knew what to do. She quickly told her mother to call 911, and she and her father got out of the car to go knock on doors to awaken people who could potentially be affected by the fire.

“The fire was huge, and I didn’t really know where it came from, but at the time I was mostly just focused on getting all the families out,” Righthouse said.

At the risk of her own life, Righthouse helped evacuate citizens from burning units, even physically evacuating an elderly woman herself.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, but there is speculation that it started from an overheated washer or dryer or from a car in the garage.

Righthouse said she was relieved that everyone got out safely and no one was harmed.

“I’m thankful for all the training I’ve gone through that mentally prepared me for how to act during a stressful situation like the one I was in,” she said.

Word of her efforts traveled to city councilmember Chris Cate, who took it to a city council meeting to issue a proclamation to name January 23, 2018, “Sophia M. Righthouse Day” to honor her.

During the proclamation, council member Cate stated, “Sophia Righthouse is an outstanding example of a youth that embodies courage, honor, patriotism, volunteerism, civic responsibility, leadership, and a passion to help others. Individuals like Sophia, make our community better.”

The proclamation was presented on the same day of its issue, at 10 a.m.  at the Council Chambers of the City of San Diego. The proclamation proclaimed her as the District 6 Youth of the Year and also honored her other accomplishments, such as her founding of the Valuing Our Veterans flagpole program, which purchases flagpoles honoring veterans through the Young Marines, her community service through Girl Scouts, and her dedication to the JROTC program at Westview.

When Righthouse heard the news of her proclamation, she was more surprised than anything.

“I didn’t think that anything would come out of what I did, but I’m really grateful and excited that it’s happening,” she said.

In addition, Righthouse received the highest ribbon honor from JROTC, the Meritorious Achievement ribbon. It’s awarded to cadets for outstanding service to the community for a single qualifying act.

She plans to continue her participation in the JROTC program, in the hopes of one day being appointed to the United States Naval Academy.

“I really just want to serve our country,” Righthouse said. “People fought for me so I would like to pay them back and return the favor.”

And she’s already begun to do that through her heroic life-saving efforts in her very own homebase.