Local News

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

Posted November 13, 2012 6:08 p.m. EST
Updated November 13, 2012 7:10 p.m. EST

— 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.

"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.