Three people died as an overcrowded manufactured home burned to the ground early Monday morning, but the casualties would have been much worse if not for the actions of one heroic little boy.
Firefighters found the body of Tyler J. Doohan in the back bedroom of the small, single-wide trailer in Penfield, NY on Monday morning. The eight-year-old was just feet from the bed of his disabled Uncle Steve, who investigators believe Tyler was trying to rescue from the blaze, which appears to have been caused by an electrical problem.
The young man had already saved the lives of six other relatives from the tightly-packed manufactured home, according to Penfield Fire Chief Chris Ebmeyer:
Ebmeyer said the fire started about 4:45 a.m. and spread quickly as the trailer’s nine occupants slept. It’s unknown whether there was a working fire alarm in the home.
Tyler was able to wake six people — including two other children, ages 4 and 6 — who all escaped. It was when Tyler tried to help Smith, who uses a wheelchair and crutches because he was without part of a leg, that he was killed.
Ebmeyer said the casualties of the fire could have been much worse if not for Tyler’s actions, given the fact that so many people were staying in the home.
“He saved those other six people,” he said, adding that he was unaware of the sleeping arrangements of the nine people in the trailer.
The third casualty was Tyler’s grandfather, who owned the trailer and frequently hosted Tyler for family barbecues and bonfires. The relatives who escaped the fire — including Tyler’s grandmother, aunt, and cousins — were taken to a hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.