Man rushes back into burning home to save niece

‘I wasn't going to let my niece die,' he says

By Stephen Anthony Sobek

ABERDEEN, Washington (CNN) - A young man is fighting the pain of serious burns after rushing back into a burning home to save his niece.

Gauze now covers Derrick Byrd’s face, arms and back. When fire broke out Thursday morning at their Aberdeen, Washington, home, he jumped into action.

“Even though I got burnt, I really didn’t care though,” he told KOMO-TV. “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.”

The 8-year-old girl, Mercedes, was afraid to jump and when her mother fell off the roof, she fell back into a burning room.

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

Mercedes, Derrick and another 6-year-old were airlifted to a local hospital.

Derrick is being hailed as a hero.

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

The house appears to be a total loss. Firefighters and police say they are thankful no one died.

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