Man helps rescue mother and son from Danville house fire

Man helps rescue mother and son from Danville house fire
Aftermath of a house fire on American Legion Boulevard in Danville (Source: WDBJ)

DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - In Danville, a woman and her grandson are in a hospital - the grandson fighting for his life - after a Saturday night house fire. They’re recovering thanks to the quick thinking of a young boy and their neighbor, both who happen to be family. WDBJ7 spoke with the man who jumped into the flames to save his loved ones.

What started as a peaceful Saturday night ended in disaster. A house on American Legion Boulevard in Danville was destroyed by flames. Jesse Rhoads lives next door. He knew his mother and 20-year-old son were trapped inside and didn’t think twice about running toward the danger.

“My son started screaming that he was dying, he wasn’t going to make it out, that’s when I busted his bedroom window, and as mean as it sounds, I had to grab him by his hair, it was the only thing I could find,” Rhoads said.

Nothing, not a burning building or heavy smoke, was going to stop Rhoads from finding his son Hunter inside their burning Danville home.

“I mean that’s my son. I started crying and panicking and that’s when I started busting his window, and I went through his window that time. I was literally hanging halfway, my legs were outside the house, and that’s when I get every bit of him I could and pulled him through the window,” Rhoads explained.

Hunter, his grandmother Jeanitte and the grandmother’s friend were all staying in the home Saturday night. All three were taken to a hospital. Hunter and his grandmother were then airlifted to UNC Medical Center for further treatment.

“My son is still on life support but my mom had inhalation burns so they were running a camera down her throat to check her lungs,” Rhoads said.

While Rhoads jumped into the burning house, he says the true hero is his 9-year-old son Damian, who was in the house when the fire started. He says when Damian heard the smoke alarm, he immediately ran to get help.

“For somebody to listen to school and pay attention, he shut the door behind him when he went out, trying to conceal the fire, he did everything by the book, that’s why I said this is our hero right here,” Rhoads said about his son.

Firefighters also rescued three cats, a dog and a hamster. The Fire Marshall is still working to figure out what sparked the flames.

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