By Newsweek |

Man Badly Burned Rushing Back into Blazing Building to Save Niece: 'I'd Do It Again'

A man in Washington state who was badly burned after running into a burning house to rescue his 8-year-old niece says he'd do it again in a heartbeat.

"Even though I got burnt, I really didn't care though," Derrick Byrds told Komo News. "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 suffered second- and third-degree burns saving his niece, Mercedes, after a blaze broke out at the family's home in Aberdeen Thursday morning.

It's unclear what sparked the blaze, which apparently began on the second floor. But when Byrd got outside and realized the children were still in the house, he jumped into action. He and his sister, Kayla Johnson, urged Mercedes and her brothers, Junior and Rory, to jump out the second-floor window into his arms.

"I ran down the stairs, even though I got burnt, started catching the kids. I caught Junior, and I caught baby Rory out the window," Byrd said from his hospital bed, bandages covering his face, arms and body.

But Mercedes was too scared and retreated back into the burning room.

"She was screaming my name, so I wasn't going to let her just sit there. I wasn't going to let my niece die," Byrd said. "I 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. I just carried her out as fast as I could."

uncle rescue niece

Derrick Byrd suffered second- and third-degree burns running back into his home to rescue his young niece. WSPA 7News

Byrd is listed in serious condition at Harborview Medical Center, as are Mercedes and Junior. Johnson was treated and released, while Rory and the children's grandfather Dave Nelson and his great uncle, who were also in the home during the fire, escaped unharmed.

The house is unsalvageable, reports Komo News, but the Red cross has started a food ad clothing drive for the family. Byrd, meanwhile, is being hailed as a hero.

"He forced entry back into the residence even though it was fully involved with flames at that time," Aberdeen Police Lt. CJ Chastain told Komo News. "He went upstairs and was able to bring the 8-year-old, he forced entry into the upstairs and was able to bring her out of the residence and help her to survive it."

But the young uncle is modest about the rescue.

"I can't say [I'm] a hero. I'd just say I care 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."