Hero 20-year-old saves niece from house fire: 'I'd rather get burnt than her'
A daring 20-year-old man who risked his life to save his 8-year-old niece from a burning home said he would do it again if he had to, KOMO News reports.
On July 4, Derrick Byrd, who lives in Aberdeen, Wash., sprang into action when his home caught fire. At the time, his sister Kayla and her three children Mercedes, Junior and Rory were also at the home. As the blaze grew, the two adults decided to evacuate the children through the second-floor window.
"Kayla wanted to get the kids out so I ran downstairs even though I got burnt," Derrick said. "Started catching the kids. I caught Junior and I caught Baby Rory out of Kayla's window."
Eight-year-old Mercedes, however, was reportedly afraid to jump. When Kayla attempted to escape the fire with her daughter by leaping off the roof instead, Mercedes purportedly fell back into the burning room.
"She was screaming my name," Derrick recalled. "So I wasn't just going to let her sit there. I wasn't going to let my niece die."
The 20-year-old told the station that he then went back into the house to rescue his niece.
"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."
Derrick, Mercedes and Junior were all later airlifted to a hospital.
As a result of his daring rescue of Mercedes, Derrick suffered second- and third-degree burns on his face, back and arms.
"Even though I got burnt, I really didn't care," he said. "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."
Many have since called the Aberdeen man a hero, although he said he was just doing his job as an uncle.
"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."
Firefighters are still investigating the cause of the fire, according to KOMO News.