Most of us have probably asked ourselves at one point or another: “What would I do if I was in a burning building?” One young man recently had the opportunity to learn that answer.
A Washington home suddenly caught on fire with the flames engulfing the second story. No one knows how the fire began, but it spread fast — trapping the inhabitants on the upper floor.
That’s when Derrick Byrd, 20, sprang into action.
The house belonged to his sister Kayla, and she, along with her three young children, were
The two siblings quickly worked to get the children out of the house.
With Derrick on the ground, Kayla managed to drop two of her three children into his arms, including her baby and her 6-year-old.
“Kayla wanted to get the kids out so I ran downstairs even though I got burnt,” said Derrick. “Started catching the kids. I caught Junior and I caught Baby Rory out of Kayla’s window.”
But balancing on the precarious rooftop, Kayla suddenly lost her grip and fell into the yard, leaving her 8-year-old daughter Mercedes alone and in a panic on the second floor.
A situation like this is every parent’s worst nightmare. The little girl was terrified. Too frightened to leap from the roof, she ran in a panic back inside the burning house. That was when her uncle knew he had to take action.
“She was screaming my name,” he said. “So, I wasn’t just going to let her sit there. I wasn’t going to let my niece die.”
Racing back into the burning house, he ran up the stairs, thinking quickly to protect the little girl from burns and smoke damage.
“I just ran up the stairs and pushed through the fire,” he said. “I could feel it burning me. I got her and took my shirt off and put it around her face so she wouldn’t breathe in any smoke and I just carried her out as fast as I could.”
Amazingly, the whole family survived the fire.
Everyone was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center along with their uncle, whose back, face, and arms had sustained second- and third-degree burns.
But Derrick says he would do it all again to save the children. Even though he’s facing a long road to recovery, he says he wouldn’t mind having to face fire again or even lose his life if it meant getting the kids out safely.
“I can’t say [I’m] a hero,” he said. “I’d just say for my niece and nephews that I wasn’t going to let them die.”
Unfortunately, the family’s house is completely destroyed, and authorities still have not found a cause of the blaze.
But their local community has started a donation drive for them, asking for food, clothing, and other items. Mercedes is also still in the hospital and was temporarily placed in a medically-induced coma after suffering injuries to her lungs from chemical inhalation.
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