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He Escaped the Fire, Then Realized His Niece Was Still Inside

20-year-old Derrick Byrd seriously burned rescuing 8-year-old, but says he'd do it all over again
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2019 12:05 PM CDT
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Stock photo.   (Getty Images/aleksandr yakovlev)

(Newser) – While every family may have a "fun" uncle, this Washington state family probably prefers having one who's a hero. When a fire broke out at an Aberdeen home early Thursday, with seven family members inside, 20-year-old Derrick Byrd "jumped into action," 14 News reports. He says he stood under a window and caught his 6-year-old nephew, Junior, and 3-year-old nephew, Rory, then held out his arms for 8-year-old niece Mercedes—but she wouldn't jump. "She was screaming my name," Byrd says. "I wasn't going to let my niece die." He says he bolted up the steps, "pushed through the fire," found Mercedes, covered her face with his shirt, and then "carried her out as fast as I could."

"He forced entry back into the residence even though it was fully involved with flames at that time," a local police officer tells KOMO. Byrd, Junior, and Mercedes were airlifted from the scene and are all said to be in serious condition in the burn unit at Harborview Medical Center, with Byrd suffering second- and third-degree burns on his face, back, and arms. Rory wasn't hurt, nor were two other relatives; the children's mother (Byrd's sister) was burned, but she has already been treated and released from the hospital. Despite his injuries, Byrd has no regrets on running back in for Mercedes. "I'd do it again," Byrd says. "I don't care. ... I'd run back in there and do it again, even if I got burnt worse or died." (Read more uplifting news stories.)

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