Heroic uncle rescues 8-year-old niece from burning house, suffers serious burns on face: 'I’d rather get burnt than her'
An uncle suffered serious burns on the body and is being hailed as a hero after he braved a fire tearing apart his house to rescue his niece, who was trapped inside.
The 20-year-old Derrick Byrd knew the lives of his nephews and nieces were at stake when a blaze engulfed their family home in Aberdeen, Washington, early Thursday, July 4, according to the Daily Mail.
There were six members of the family from three generations inside the house. When calls of 'fire! fire!' broke out from the children on the second floor, Byrd knew he would have to act quickly.
He ran outside the house, catching his nephews Junior and Rory as they jumped off the second-storey window. But just as his eight-year-old niece Mercedes was getting to jump, her mother Kayla, Byrd's sister, slipped and fell to the ground from the roof.
Scared, Mercedes retreated back into the house and into the flames that were quickly engulfing the residence, and Byrd knew he would have to run inside to get her to safety. "She was screaming my name," Byrd told KOMO. "So I wasn’t just going to let her sit there. I wasn’t going to let my niece die.”
The 20-year-old ran up the stairs and pushed through the fire to get to Mercedes. When he found her, even though the fire was burning him, he took his shirt off and put it around her face so she wouldn't inhale any of the fumes and carried her out as fast as he could.
Byrd, Mercedes, and Junior were airlifted to the Harborview Medical Center for treatment, and all three currently remain at the hospital in the burns unit.
His heroics left him with second and third-degree burns on the face, back, and arms, but the 20-year-old said that if such a situation came up again, he wouldn't think twice about putting his life on the line.
"Even though I got burnt, I didn't really care," he said. "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."
"I’d do it again," he continued. "I really would. I don’t care. I’d run back in there and do it again even if I got burnt worse or died." The authorities have said the family's home is beyond repair adding that they were relieved that no lives were lost. Investigators said that the fire broke out on the second floor, where the children were sleeping, but said they could not ascertain the cause of the blaze.