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Grandmother says Hardin boy who died in fire was a hero

Posted at 10:36 PM, Aug 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-02 15:55:22-04

HARDIN - The grandmother of the 10-year-old boy who died in a fire in Hardin on Monday says he saved their lives.

As she waits for the report on the investigation, she also believes the fire was not an accident.

Faron Enemy Hunter, also known as Chubby, finished the 3rd grade at Hardin Intermediate School this past school year.

He alerted his family to the fire.

His grandmother and one of his teachers say he was a hero.

Jennifer White Bear says her grandson was the first to know the family's house was on fire Monday morning.

"I just heard somebody saying fire and smoke," White Bear said. "And I woke up and I just went straight downstairs and I looked at the bottom of the window and you could see the flame."

"Faron Ememy Hunter was a hero," said Diane McDonald, one of Faron's teachers.

Faron Enemy Hunter.jpg
Courtesy: Hardin Middle School

McDonald is a special education teacher at Hardin Intermediate School and a case manager for children with disabilities.

She helped Faron with his autism and says children with autism have heightened sensitivity.

Because of that, Faron was able to smell the smoke while everyone was sleeping.

"He woke up in the middle of the night and alerted the family," McDonald said. "He went around the house and said smoke, smoke to his older brothers and his Nana, his sister."

McDonald says the brothers told her they thought Chubby was right behind them.

But another autism trait made him go upstairs.

"They not only have heightened sensitivities," McDonald said. "But because of that, it can cause fear and he didn't follow them. He retreated farther back and to a place that was comforting for him."

White Bear fears the fire may be connected to the 2017 death of her daughter and Faron's mother, Bonnie Three Irons.

"He missed her," White Bear said. "They were close."

The Big Horn County Coroner determined Three Irons died in the mountains from hypothermia.

The FBI was part of the investigation into her death, but will not elaborate on the status of the case.

White Bear suspects foul play in her daughter's death and she believes the fire was not accidental.

She says her home did not have electricity on the porch where she thinks the fire started.

"It wasn't something electrical," White Bear said. "So somebody had to have done something."

Big Horn County Sheriff Darrell King says he can neither confirm nor deny White Bear's suspicions and is waiting for the report from the State Fire Marshal.

The American Red Cross visited the family on Tuesday to help with supplies and support.

A GoFundMe has been set up to assist the family.