A man who carried one of his children out of a burning house and went back inside to rescue others was one of two people to die in the fire, authorities in western New York said Friday.
Relatives identified the father as 24-year-old Demetrius Johnson. Fire officials said he carried his badly burned 8-year-old daughter from the two-family home in Buffalo shortly after 4 a.m. and died after returning to the lower apartment where his 1- and 3-year-old sons and their mother also lived.
A man on the second floor also died.
“He got me and the little baby out,” the children’s mother, Tempest Thomas, told WGRZ-TV outside of the Buffalo hospital where her children were taken. “My daughter and son were trapped in there. I threw my daughter in the hallway and told him to get her out of there. He went back in trying to look for his 3-year-old son and never made it back out…. He died rescuing his son.”
A firefighter found the 3-year-old near where the father died and carried the child out, Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield said at a news conference.
Eight-year-old Treasure Brighon would be flown to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Cincinnati to be treated for burns, said a spokesman at Women & Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, where 3-year-old, Demetrius Johnson was hospitalized with smoke inhalation.
Thomas and 1-year-old Demaris Johnson were not injured.
As of Friday afternoon, authorities had not released the name of the 49-year-old who died in the upstairs apartment.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
In the television interview, Thomas cried as she held up her hand and the engagement ring she said Johnson had given her on Valentine’s Day.
“I never got the chance to marry him,” she said.