12-year-old saves family from burning house

March 22, 2008 10:29:48 AM PDT
A Raleigh family is spending their Easter weekend in a motel after being burned out of their home Friday morning.

The family says it has a lot to be thankful for, especially their 12-year-old son, who alerted the family to danger.

Early Friday morning, Donday Washington's bedroom was engulfed by flames.

"I woke up and I just saw embers flying up past the windows," Washington said. "And, at first I thought it was a dream."

When his grogginess cleared, the 12-year-old went into action.

"I got up and I told my dad," Washington said. "And my dad got up and he started running downstairs to get my mom up, and I got my sister up."

Also in the house were Washington's two older sisters and their small children.

Everyone escaped.

Firefighters say the blaze began in one of the family's Ford Expedition -- a vehicle that's been recalled because of many similar fires.

Fortunately, the fire was not inside the garage.

"I hate to think about that, but had I pulled in the garage it's very likely that it would have been much worse because the garage is right underneath my son's room," Washington's dad said.

Even though the SUV was outside, it was too close for Washington.

"I just saw the flame all the way up to my room," Washington said.

The family was insurance on the car and the house that should cover the damage.

Friday the Washingtons packed up to move to motel rooms provided by the Red Cross. Of course neighbors, friends and family spent much of the day praising the actions of their now favorite 7th grader.

"He's a hero," the boys's father said. "He's always been my hero and this just makes him that much more."

When asked if he feels like a hero, the child laughed and replied, "Yes. Cause I've been hearing that all day. And so, you know."

But as much as he's enjoyed his day in the spotlight, the 12-year-old has learned a very valuable lesson.

"Material things can be replaced, but lives can't," he said.

Donday D. Washington/Fire Victim.. "Material things can be replaced, but lives can't."


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