Good Samaritans Help Rescue Grand Rapids Fire Victims

Posted at 3:28 PM, Dec 19, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-19 18:42:59-05

Terrance Riley and his family had to open the doors of their home on Prospect Avenue in Grand Rapids to neighbor children  Wednesday morning, as the youngsters were forced to flee their burning home.

“I woke up to screams of ‘Help!’ and ‘Please help!’ Riley says. “I got on some clothes, I ran out, I charged over. By the time I got over there, the flames were coming out, they were so deep coming out.”

Those flames were coming out of 1018 Prospect SE. Fire officials say eight people – at least five of them children – were taken to the hospital for various injuries, most involving smoke inhalation.

Riley says he ran next door and started getting next door neighbors out of their homes, in case the flames spread.

A block over, Brandon Buys and Ron Starks were siding a house when they saw what was happening.

They rushed over to help, and found two people stuck on the top floor of the home.

“There was a baby and a woman up there,” Buys says. “And we told them that they’re gonna have to jump.”

“We kept yelling, ‘Drop the baby. We can catch it,'” Starks adds. “And she finally dropped it.”

Buys caught the child while other worked to rescue the woman.

Quick thinking and quick actions that might have made all the difference.

“A neighborhood effort,” Riley says. “Everybody came together to keep them out. It was me and a guy I’d never seen before a day in my life bamming on doors getting people out of the building.”

“I’m just glad I was there to be able to help,” Buys says. “I was in the right place at the right time. I just hope other people would do the same thing if they were in my situation.”

Fire officials say the worst injuries were to 10-month-old Allison Gamez, who suffered second-and-third-degree burns to 42 percent of her body. Maria Reyes-Nevarez, 31, suffered second-degree burns to her arm. Idalia Sanchez, 28, broke her ankle while escaping through that second-story window.