We all like to imagine we’d be there for our loved ones when disaster strikes—even if it means risking our own lives to save theirs. Thankfully most of us won’t have to face that decision, but a blazing house fire recently forced it on one young man. He chose to risk his own life, and he said he’d do it again.
20-year-old Derrick Byrd of Aberdeen, Washington is in the hospital with second- and third-degree burns covering his face, arms, and back after heroically rescuing his niece and nephews from a fire that destroyed their home.
Derrick told KOMO News he went downstairs to catch his niece and nephews while his sister Kayla helped them escape from the roof of the burning building.
“Kayla wanted to get the kids out so I ran downstairs even though I got burnt,” Derrick said. “Started catching the kids. I caught Junior and I caught Baby Rory.”
Then Kayla fell off the roof and 8-year-old Mercedes—too afraid to make the jump—fell back into the blaze. Derrick decided to rush in and save her.
“She was screaming my name, so I wasn’t going to let her just sit there, I wasn’t going to let my niece die,” Derrick said.
“I ran up the stairs and pushed through the fire. 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. I just carried her out as fast as I could.”
“Even though I got burnt, I really didn’t care though. I’d rather get burnt than her. She’s young. She’s still got a lot of stuff going for her. She’s a good kid,” he continued.
While Derrick is being hailed as a hero, he’s humble about his actions that day.
“I can’t say a hero. I’d just say I care for my niece and nephews. I wasn’t going to let them die,” he said. “I’d do it again. I really would. I don’t care. I really would. I’d run back in there and do it again, even if I got worse or died.”
Authorities still haven’t determined the cause of the fire. The family lost their home and most of their possessions, but their friends, family, and neighbors are organizing donations of food, clothes, and toys for the children.