Brittany Hambleton
Brittany Hambleton
May 21, 2024 ·  3 min read

20-Year-Old Man Sustains Severe Burns after Diving Into a Burning House to Save His Little Niece

He’s dealing with indescribable pain, disfigurement, exhaustion, but he would do it all over again without a second thought. The severe burns all over his body could never dampen Derrick Byrd’s love for his family. 8-year-old Mercedes now knows that real-life heroes don’t wear capes. They come in the form of ordinary people, like her loving uncle. 

When a massive fire erupted in his Aberdeen family home this July, all Byrd could think about was getting his nephews and nieces to safety as quickly as possible [1]. The stairs were already burning, and the children couldn’t go out that way without getting seriously hurt. Derrick ran down straight through the fire and went outside. He was in a lot of pain but his sister, Kayla’s children were the top priority at that time. 

Kayla wanted to get the kids out so I ran downstairs even though I got burnt,” said Byrd to Komo News [2]. “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.”

Mercedes couldn’t jump, so he went back in to get her, causing severe burns

Six-year-old Junior and a younger Rory got onto the second-floor window and jumped down into Derrick’s waiting arms. However, Mercedes wasn’t brave enough to make the jump. When Kayla tried to rescue the girl, she slipped and fell off the rooftop. At this point, Mercedes got back into the building and began to call out for her uncle.

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

At this point, Byrd did something truly heroic. A pure act of selflessness and true love. He dived back into the smoky building despite not being able to see clearly through the flames. He found Mercedes in a corner and then took off his shirt to protect her lungs from the smoke, enduring the searing flames roasting his back.

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.”

On his face, arms, back, and legs, Byrd sustained second and third-degree burns and was immediately airlifted to the Harborview Medical Center, along with Mercedes and Junior.


Byrd and the children are still receiving treatment at the medical center. His burns were the most severe of all and he would take quite a while to recover, but the doctors are positive that he’ll be all right soon enough.  When asked if he feels like a hero after the fire episode, Byrd said:

 “I can’t say a hero,” he said. “I’d just say for my niece and nephews that I wasn’t going to let them die. I would 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.”

The family’s house was burned down in the fire and there’s nothing left of it. The Fire Department is still unsure of what caused the fire, but investigations are still going on. They proudly praised Byrd for his heroic act. Mercedes and the boys may not have made it out alive if he hadn’t been quick to come up with rescue plans.

Friends and family have come together to donate food, clothes, toys, and other essential materials to Byrd, his sister and the children. They lost nearly everything in that stroke of bad luck, but they are thankful that no life was lost. They’ll pull through soon enough.


  1. Heroic Uncle Runs into House Fire to Rescue 8-year-old Niece after Saving Nephews.” Evolve. Admin.
  2. ‘Even if I got burnt worse or died’: Heroic uncle would do it again.Komo News. Eldridge, Keith. July 5, 2019.