Washington uncle runs into burning home to save niece, report says | News Coverage from USA

Washington uncle runs into burning home to save niece, report says

A Washington man is recovering in the hospital after running into a burning home to save his 8-year-old niece, according to a report from a local news station. 

Derrick Byrd, 20, told Seattle’s KOMO-TV in an on-camera interview that he rushed back into the house to rescue his niece, Mercedes, after previously running through flames to get outside so he could catch his nephews, who had to jump from a second-story window. 

The whole incident took place Thursday morning in Aberdeen, Washington. The Aberdeen Fire Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.

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“Even though I got burnt,” Byrd told the TV station from his hospital bed while covered in gauze. “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.”

Warning: The below interview from KOMO-TV includes adult language.

Byrd describes a scene where, after he caught his nephews and his sister, Kayla, fell, Mercedes was too afraid to jump.

“She was screaming my name,” Byrd told the outlet. “So I wasn’t just going to let her sit there. I wasn’t going to let my niece die.”

Byrd ran back into the home, pushing through flames until he reached her. He then took off his shirt, covered her face with it and ran back outside. 

“He forced entry back into the residence even though it was fully involved with flames at that time,” Aberdeen Police Department Lt. CJ Chastain said to KOMO-TV.

“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.”

Mercedes, 6-year-old Junior and Byrd were all airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. KOMO-TV reports Byrd suffered second- and third-degree burns to his face, back and arms.

The Aberdeen Police Department posted a photo on Facebook of a home engulfed in flames and noted a 20-year-old, an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old were all taken to Haborview for “specialized care.” 

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“The Aberdeen Fire Department estimates $268,000 loss to the structure and contents,” the police department wrote, adding emergency personnel responded to the blaze just after 4 a.m. on Thursday. 

Byrd isn’t calling himself a hero for his actions. 

“I can’t say a hero,” Byrd said in his interview with KOMO-TV. “I’d just say for my niece and nephews, I wasn’t going to let them die.”

He added, “I’d do it again,” he 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.”

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