A 20-year-old uncle is being called a hero after running back into a burning building to rescue his niece. After doing it, he says he is not a hero but he does say he would do it all over again.
Derrick Byrd did not come out of the flames unscathed. He sustained third-degree burns to his face and back after rushing back into his family home in Aberdeen, Washington on July 4 after the fire started.
He spoke with KOMO to describe how he had gone downstairs to rescue two children from the house prior to running in to save his eight-year-old niece, Mercedes. She had been stuck in an upstairs room.
Heroic Washington man talks about running back into a burning house to save his niece.Posted by KEPR Action News on Friday, July 5, 2019
“She was screaming my name,” said Byrd.
“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.”
Byrd had run downstairs when the fire started and he was already going through the flames. He went down to catch the children while Kayla, his sister, threw them out of a second-floor window.
Kayla fell off of the roof and Mercedes was afraid to jump. She ended up falling back into the burning room.
“He forced entry back into the residence even though it was fully involved with flames at that time,” Lt. C.J. Chastain of the Aberdeen Police Department told CNN, describing his actions as heroic.
Byrd said he didn’t really care about getting burned. “I can’t say a hero,” he told KOMO.
“I’d do it again, I really would,” he said. “I’d run back in there and do it again even if I got burnt worse or died.”
The Aberdeen Police Department reported the fire was called in at 4 AM on July 4. Seven occupants were able to get out of the house before the fire destroyed the three-story building.
“An 8-year old female, and 6 and 3-year old males (all residents of the home) were transported to the Grays Harbor Community Hospital,” said the police in a statement. “A 20-year old male from the home took himself to the Grays Harbor Community Hospital for treatment. The 20, 8, and 6-year-olds were later transferred to Harborview for specialized care.”
The cause of the fire is being investigated.
19-A16393 DUFFY STREET STRUCTURE FIREThree people were transferred to the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle this…Posted by Aberdeen Police Department on Thursday, July 4, 2019
Stephanie Allen, another sibling set up a GoFundMe to help the family.
“They lost everything in the fire. They lost their home and all of their belongings,” she wrote. “They have to start over from scratch.”
Stephanie said that Byrd, her brother had third-degree burns “all over the upper half of his body.” Her niece is not able to breathe on her own yet.
“Honestly at this point anything will help. Food, clothes, prayers, passing this forward. The money that is donated will be going toward medical expense, to get clothes and shoes, as well as hopes to find another home. They are strong and will get through this!”
Lydia Marano Cover, who lives in the neighborhood told CNN that she could hear children screaming while the building was burning.
“It was awful, it was terrible. It’s not something I ever want to hear again.”