Fire officials have confirmed that three teenagers helped a family escape a house fire Saturday in Mount Holly.
The fire broke out around lunchtime in the 5200 block of Hickory Grove Road, according to Assistant Chief Billy Lee with the East Gaston Fire Department.
Lee said four trucks initially responded to the call, but a second alarm was needed for more manpower and water. He said that fighting the fire became difficult for the firefighters for a number of reasons.
“Between the heavy smoke and it being a tin roof, they had trouble getting footing on the roof,” said Lee. He added that rain also made it difficult to fight the fire.
Before fire crews were called to the scene, three teenagers helped clear the house. Blake Jenkins, Dalton Watts, and Eric Legrand, all freshman at East Gaston High School, were outside when Jenkins noticed smoke coming from his home.
“He said he saw smoke coming out the window so he ran in there and came out and told us the house was on fire,” explained Watts.
The teens said they went into the smoking home to help Jenkins’ grandparents and uncle escape the structure. They said Jenkins’ grandmother fell in the bathtub when she heard there was a fire. Jenkins said he helped her out of the predicament while Watts assisted the other family members and Legrand dialed 911.
“It was like an instinct I guess,” said Watts.
Jenkins said smoke had already begun filling the home when the teenagers went back inside the house to assist the family members.
“There was black smoke everywhere. You couldn’t really see that much. I was having to crouch down just to breathe, just to get air,” said Jenkins.
Lee advises members of the public to use caution if faced with a similar situation.
“If you can safely go back in, get them out. But if you can’t, we don’t want you going back in and being a victim too,” the fire official explained.
Lee said crews from eight paid and volunteer fire departments responded to assist in fighting the fire Saturday.
Jenkins said he thinks a toaster started the fire. He explained that much of the home he has lived in his entire life was damaged in the blaze.
“Everything can’t be replaced. There’s a lot of stuff that can’t like pictures, all kind of stuff that we won’t ever have again,” the teen said.
Despite the fire damage, Jenkins said he is thankful more wasn’t lost in the fire.
“I got my family. That is what matters the most.”