A 16-year-old Ellicott City youth crawled through dense smoke yesterday morning to rescue his paraplegic father from their burning home.
Russell Shaver Jr., a 10th-grade student at Mount Hebron High School, said most of his eight-member family was in bed when the fire started. All escaped unharmed from the four-bedroom home, in the 8400 block of Old Frederick Road. The blaze caused $125,000 damage.
dTC "I was getting ready to wake up," Russell said, "when my niece came running into my room. She was yelling, 'Fire.' "
The youth said he bolted to the hallway, where he could see his mother trying to extinguish a fire on a bunk-bed with a cup of water.
"My mother said, 'Get your dad! Get your dad!," Russell recalled.
Frances Shaver, 52, who was on the telephone calling 911, knew her husband was in trouble. Russell Shaver Sr., 36, was paralyzed from the waist down after an auto accident last year in Baltimore County, his family said.
His son raced to his parents' second-floor bedroom, where his father was waking.
"I helped him get out of his bed and onto the floor," Russell said. "When I got him on the floor, I started pulling him and the smoke was [everywhere]. I was on my hands and knees."
Halfway down the stairs, Russell Jr. yelled toward the room of his 23-year-old sister, Trish Murray, to alert her to the fire.
At first, Ms. Murray said the fact their house was on fire didn't register. "I thought he meant down the street, somewhere else," she said.
She grabbed her two children, ages 2 and 5, and ran out the front door. A niece and nephew, ages 4 and 7, also managed to get out. Some family members were in pajamas or underclothes as they fled.
Russell, meanwhile, struggled to save his father.
"I pulled him and dragged him down the steps to the porch," he said.
Within minutes, firefighters had arrived. They extinguished the fire in about an hour, confining it to the second-floor.
The fire began shortly after 7:30 a.m. in a second-floor bedroom, where children were playing with a cigarette lighter, said investigators from the state fire marshal's office.
The fire was ruled an accident.
Battalion Chief Donald R. Howell, the county's fire and rescue services spokesman, said that had it not been for Russell Jr., the outcome could have been tragic.
"The 16-year-old is being credited with doing a very heroic
thing," Mr. Howell said.
The family are staying with relatives and friends.