Derrick Byrd from Aberdeen, Washington, is dealing with the pain of serious burns because he rushed back into a burning building to rescue his niece. Byrd said from his hospital bed that he’d do it again, as reported by KOMO News.
Byrd, who is 20 years old, has 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his face, back and arms. He was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center after his house caught fire on July 4th.
“Even though I got burnt,” said Byrd. “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’s niece Mercedes and nephews Junior and Rory are very important to him. This explains why he was so adamant to protect them. He assisted the kids’ mother, Kayla, his sister, in transporting the kids out of the second-floor window.
“Kayla wanted to get the kids out so I ran downstairs even though I got burnt,” he said. “Started catching the kids. I caught Junior and I caught Baby Rory out of Kayla’s window.”
However, Mercedes, who is 8-years-old, was scared to jump. When her mom left the roof, Mercedes fell back into the room that was on fire. “She was screaming my name,” said Byrd. “So I wasn’t just going to let her sit there. I wasn’t going to let my niece die.”
“And 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.”
Mercedes and her younger brother Junior were flown to Harborview just like Derrick.
He is being praised as a hero.
“I can’t say a hero,” said Byrd. “I’d just say for my niece and nephews, I wasn’t going to let them die.”
The family’s house looked to be unsalvageable. The firefighters and police were thankful that nobody lost their life.
“I’d do it again,” Byrd said. “I really would. I don’t care. I really would. I’d run back in there and do it again even if I got burnt worse or died.”
According to the fire investigators the cause of the fire is still unknown, but apparently it started on the inside on the second floor.
A food, clothing and toy drive was started for the family by friends and neighbors.
Read the KOMO News story and watch an interview with Byrd here.