The two young men from across the street knew there was something wrong when they saw the smoke.
It was pouring out of a second-story window of a house in Rochester, New York, and fortunately for the family of five who lived there, the two neighbors took decisive action.
Without thinking twice, the pair, Darius Dillard and Nate Williams, ran across the street and kicked in the front door.
What they found was somewhat unfathomable to them; the family members were scurrying about the house collecting personal items to take with them before making their escape. The main floor of the house was starting to fill up with smoke, though there was still some visibility, while the upstairs was already engulfed.
The two young men persuaded the family to abandon their salvaging attempts and get out. It was already becoming hard to breathe—which presented an immediate danger.
“[…] once it got in your lungs, it was hard, we could have passed out,” Darius later told the media.
Quickly, they got the family, one adult and four children, out of the house; and then the pair bravely attempted to go back inside and put out the fire (which you’re not really supposed to do). Meanwhile, a neighbor had already called 911, and they had dispatched firefighters to the scene.
Two young men are being hailed as heroes after rushing into a burning Rochester home to rescue five people.
The smoke was too heavy by that point, however. The two young men, who bravely threw water on the fire, were forced to abandon their attempt. The fire trucks soon arrived just minutes later, and they soon had the blaze extinguished.
“I was relieved,” Darius told WROC in an interview after the incident. “Everyone just made it out of there safely, that’s all that really mattered.”
“I wouldn’t want my family to be in that same situation,” added Nate. “And I feel like I should help other people.”
Afterwards, Darius and Nate drew praise from Deputy Chief Jim Ryan of the Rochester Fire Department, but with a few words of caution.
“I think it’s awesome that they sprung into motion and tried to make sure there wasn’t anyone inside and got them out, they did something about it,” Ryan told WROC. “Of course, we don’t suggest that you try to put your fire out, the best thing is just to make a quick call to us.”
Later, Fire Chief David Compton added a few words of encouragement for the two would-be firefighters.
“Job well done. Please don’t do it again,” said Compton. “And sign up for our test. I’d love to see the two of them sign up and take our exam and do well.”
Meanwhile Nate’s father was pleased to see his son and nephew perform so honorably.
“I’m proud of them,” said Nathaniel Williams Sr. “That means that it’s something me and his mother teaching them to be good men. For boys to men, they’re growing up to be good men. They care more about other people than just themselves. So I’m hoping they keep them going on.”
Darius Dillard (L), 18, and Nate Williams Jr. (R), 16, received a joint proclamation from the Mayor and City Council today in honor of their quick action on Aug. 14 to rescue an adult and four children from a burning house on Emerson Street. pic.twitter.com/UP0TEwmbCx
— City of Rochester NY (@CityRochesterNY) August 21, 2019
And last but not least of all, Mayor Lovely Warren recognized the two young men in a city council meeting and also declared Aug. 20 “Darius Dillard and Nate Williams Day.”
Well done, boys!