Uncle Who Saved Niece, 8, by Running Into Burning House 'Would Do It Again' Despite Severe Burns
A Washington state man said he has no regrets as he battles severe burns after running into a home — engulfed in flames — to save his 8-year-old niece.
At around 4 a.m. last Thursday, a fire erupted inside a three-story home in Aberdeen.
Acting fast, Derrick Byrd, 20, focused on getting his niece Mercedes and his nephews Junior and Rory to safety.
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He explained to 14 News that he and his sister Kayla Johnson were forced to get the children out through the second-floor window of the house.
“I ran down the stairs, even though I got burnt, started catching the kids,” Derrick Byrd told 14 News. “I caught Junior, and I caught baby Rory out the window,” he recalled.
It was in that moment that he realized Mercedes was still inside the house.
Byrd explained to 14 News that Mercedes was too scared to jump and had retreated into the burning room.
“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,” Byrd told the outlet.
“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 breath in any smoke. I just carried her out as fast as I could,” Byrd said.
Shortly after everyone was out of the house, emergency responders arrived on the scene and Byrd, Mercedes and Junior were airlifted to the hospital, according to 14 News.
Byrd remains in a hospital bed, with bandages covering his entire body. He suffered second- and third-degree burns.
“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,” Byrd told 14 News.
Because of his heroic act, Byrd is being called a hero.
“He forced entry back into the residence even though it was fully involved with flames at that time,” Lt. CJ Chastain of the Aberdeen Police Department told Komo News.
“He went upstairs and was able to bring the eight-year-old, he forced entry into the upstairs and was able to bring her out of the residence and help her to survive it,” Chastain told the outlet.
“That’s pretty heroic,” a reporter told Chastain, who responded, saying, “Yes, it was,” according to Komo News.
However, Byrd doesn’t necessarily agree.
“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,” Byrd told 14 News.
“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.”
At this time, Byrd, Mercedes and Junior are in serious condition in the burn unit of Harborview Medical Center, Komo News reported.
Johnson, who was also burned, was treated and released, according to the outlet.
Rory and the children’s grandfather Dave Nelson and his brother Brady Cardin, who were also in the home during the fire, were not harmed.
It is not immediately clear what caused the fire, but investigators believe it started on the second floor of the house, which is now completely destroyed.
Since the incident, the family has received donations of clothing and toys from The Red Cross, Komo News reported.