Local News

Kinston teen saves seven-month-old cousin from burning home

Posted April 13
Updated April 14

A high school student is being called a hero by firefighters after he ran into a burning home to rescue his seven-month-old cousin.

Kinston Fire Rescue said the home on South Adkin Street was a total loss after the Tuesday fire that started from over-cooked food on the stove.

The baby was inside sleeping, while the family was in the backyard when the fire broken out, according to Captain William Barss.

The grandmother first saw the smoke and yelled out to other family members. LJ Gray, a junior at Kinston High School, ran in through the back door and into the kitchen to get to his cousin, Michari Strayhorn, who was in an adjacent room.

The teen then tried to leave the same way he came in, but by that time the fire and smoke were too intense, according to Barss. Gray quickly thought, turned around and ran out the front door.

"My daddy called the fire department, and I got the baby, ran in front got the baby, and by the time I got the baby the back, it was like fire, so I just ran through the front," Gray said.

The captain says this all happened before the first fire trucks arrived at the home.

"As a firefighter were trained with all of the protective equipment that we have, the bunker pants, the coats the hoods, gloves, to go into these fires and were trained to know our limits," said Captain Barss. "And this young man did it with even less than what an average person would be wearing on the street."

The high school student was only wearing basketball shorts and sneakers at the time.

Gray and his cousin were checked out by the Lenoir County Emergency Medical Services, and had no injuries from the smoke or fire.

The teen and his cousin, along with other family lived in the home, and they lost everything in the fire.

The grandmother, who owns the home, says they will rebuild.


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  • Janet Ghumri Apr 14, 5:36 p.m.
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    This kid is a hero! He should look at becoming a fire fighter, he has the bravery needed to be a part of those amazing teams! I wish we had more like him!

  • Sara Hauser Apr 14, 9:00 a.m.
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    What a hero! His only thought was to save the life of another. Awesome young man!

  • Nancy Oberman Apr 14, 7:49 a.m.
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    He's a hero in MY book, too.... it would be really nice if the community honored him in some way.

  • Jason Merrill Apr 14, 7:30 a.m.
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    Well done young man!!! Take this positive result from this negative event and build on it towards great things!!