A heroic uncle has spoken out about the terrifying moment he ran into a burning house to rescue his eight-year-old niece.
Derrick Byrd, from Aberdeen, Washington, received second and third degree burns on his face, back and arms after running into the home he shared with his sister and her three children.
The 20-year-old jumped into action after the fire broke out, catching his two nephews after they jumped out of a second floor window before running through flames to rescue his niece, Mercedes.
Derrick was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center on Thursday morning (July 4) after the fire broke out in his home, KOMO News reports.
From his hospital bed, Derrick said he would do it again in a heartbeat, even if it meant he’d have received more severe injuries or died in the fire.
The doting uncle said:
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.
After the fire broke out, Derrick helped the children’s mum Kayla – his sister – get the children out of the second floor window.
Despite Derrick saving nephews Junior and Rory, eight-year-old Mercedes was too scared to jump and when her mum fell off the roof, the little girl fell back into the burning house.
The 20-year-old explained:
She was screaming my name 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. 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 and I just carried her out as fast as I could.
Mercedes and Junior were airlifted to the same hospital as Derrick, with the latter being hailed a hero for his quick-thinking actions.
Derrick disputes his hero status, saying he couldn’t just stand by and do nothing while his family’s lives were at risk.
He told KOMO News:
I can’t say a hero. I’d just say for my niece and nephews, I wasn’t going to let them die. 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 burnt worse or died.
The house was severely damaged, with firefighters still not knowing the cause of the fire. However, they said it appeared to have started on the second floor.
Friends and neighbours have since set up a food, clothing and toy drive for the family.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).