Teen Busts into Home of Elderly Man as Fire Rages, Saves Him Moments Before Disaster


A resident from Waco, Texas, is praising his teenage neighbor for saving his life after a fire broke out in his home on June 15.

Homeowner Kelly Burnes, 69, said he was asleep when the fire started, threatening to take his home and his life.

According to the Waco Herald-Tribune, the fire started in a shed in Burnes’ backyard. Dry conditions and a steady wind caused the fire to spread to Burnes’ home.

When 17-year-old Damian Richardson stepped out of his home a few doors down from Burnes, he saw smoke and flames rising to the sky.

He took off running, and became concerned when he noticed Burnes’ vehicle still in the driveway.

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“I looked down the street, saw the smoke and flames and someone said the man was still inside,” Richardson said. “I just knew someone needed help so I went into his house, but he was sleeping.”

Richardson said he knocked on the side door that Burnes typically used to come and go from his house. But when nobody answered, Richardson burst inside to look for his neighbor.

Richardson found Burnes sound asleep. Urgently, the teen woke the man up and insisted they leave right away.

“He came and told me to come outside. I said, ‘Well, I don’t have any shoes on,'” Burnes recalled. “He said, ‘You got to get outside right now.'”

Burnes and Richardson escaped the home and watched as the firefighters arrived to extinguish the dangerous flames. Burnes says his teenage neighbor is a hero.

“I thank God that he came by at the right time at the right place to save my life,” Burnes said. Richardson isn’t so sure about being a called a hero, and said he just “had to make sure everybody was OK.”

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“He’s a hero,” Burnes said. “Without him I might not be here to tell my story.”

Richardson told Burnes he would come back to help clean up the debris. Burnes lost his sheds in the fire and his house exterior was damaged, but he is just thankful for his life.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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