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Quick-thinking teen saves self, nephew from Rocky Mount fire

Posted November 13, 2012

— Firefighters credit a teen's training and quick thinking for saving two lives in a Rocky Mount house fire.

The smoke detector went off inside Darlene Spencer-Harris' home at about 5 a.m. Monday, but she said she couldn't get to her 17-year-old daughter, Darlette Spencer, and 6-year-old great-nephew, Jhayceon Stevenson, who were sleeping upstairs.

"I just started yelling, 'Fire, fire, fire! Darlette, get up. You've got to get out,'" Spencer-Harris said Tuesday.

The teen said she was awakened by the alarm and could feel heat on her bedroom doorknob. She opened the door a crack but quickly slammed it shut when smoke poured into the bedroom.

"I, like, had lost my breath. I couldn't breathe. I was about to pass out," Spencer said.

She then remembered her fire safety training and knew the only way out was through the window. So, she knocked out an air conditioning unit and climbed onto the ledge with her cousin to wait for firefighters.

Teen saves nephew from house fire Teen saves nephew from house fire

"When our fire crews arrived on scene, we found the 17-year-old holding the 6-year-old," said Jamie Vaughn, a battalion chief with the Rocky Mount Fire Department.

Firefighters haven't determined what caused the blaze, but Spencer-Harris said she believes it started in the back of the house, near the bedroom of her son, who's away at college.

As the family checked the damaged to the house Tuesday, they were more grateful for what was saved than sad over what was lost.

"I feel like I saved both my life and his," Spencer said.


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  • bluebird1075 Nov 15, 2012

    So proud of this young lady!! In a scary situation, she took control and did exactly what she needed to do. Very brave of her and thankfully she got her nephew out too!! Way to go, Darlette!! You are a great example for other teens to follow!!

  • Phillip PJM Nov 14, 2012

    What Darlene did was truely a life saving act. Someone needs to point out, however, that, in a fire, opening a hot door, even a crack, as she did, could be a fatal mistake.

  • jenjengirl89 Nov 14, 2012

    "Quick-thinking teen saves self, nephew from Rocky Mount fire"
    "she knocked out an air conditioning unit and climbed onto the ledge with her cousin"

    Nephew, cousin, they're all the same in today's facts-or-accuracy-not-important style of "journalism".

  • anneonymousone Nov 14, 2012

    Well done, Darlette Spencer (and those who taught her fire safety)!

    In the Talmud, it says that when a person saves the life of an individual, it is as if that person has saved the entire world. Ms. Spencer has saved two worlds.

  • ladyblue Nov 13, 2012

    What a smart thinking young lady to hold her wits and remember what she was taught on fire alarm safety..Kudos to her. She indeed saved 2 lives that morning...

  • ICTrue Nov 13, 2012

    She will be rewarded in more ways than one. Most towns and fire departments have heroism awards for people like this. An uncle of mine received recognition from the town for saving two family members from a house after a propane explosion before the fire department arrived (which would have been too late). It was great but doesn't compare to the feeling of knowing that he did the right thing.

  • esteryates69 Nov 13, 2012

    This teenage is a hero for sure.

  • ncsualum09 Nov 13, 2012

    Great job!

  • holmesap Nov 13, 2012

    This young girl should be rewarded for her heroism. She kept her composure and in doing so not only did she save her life but her nephews too. Very proud of you !