Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to a blaring sound. You smell smoke and hear water gushing. You turn to look for your father and find him fast asleep, unaware of the danger unfolding. What do you do?
This is a scene straight out of most people’s worst nightmare. But in the wee hours of Feb. 27, 2019, this nightmare turned into 6-year-old Tariah Henderson’s reality.
A fire broke out at Troy Henderson's Louisville apartment Wednesday morning. Six-year-old Tariah Henderson said she woke up to "a big boom."
It would be a harrowing situation for most adults, let alone a 6-year-old child, but brave Tariah did not let fear take over her. Thanks to her quick thinking that morning, she was able to save herself and her father, Troy Henderson, from a fire that had spread to their second-floor apartment in Louisville, Kentucky.
Troy told WLKY, “If it weren’t for her waking up, I could’ve been gone.”
According to the PRP Fire Protection District, the call for the fire came from an apartment on Minette Circle in Pleasure Ridge Park, just after 5:45 a.m. that very tragic morning. The fire started from the first floor of the building and was contained to two apartments.
Tariah said she woke up after she heard a loud noise.
“I heard a big boom and I heard water splashing everywhere. And I heard the [smoke detector] beeping,” the little girl said.
“I woke up my daddy because I was so nervous,” Tariah added. “I thought we was gonna die.”
Kimbelry Thornton, a relative of the Hendersons, told WDRB, “He’d still be asleep if she didn’t wake him up.”
Troy described the scene in the apartment, and said, “throughout the hallway, there was just flames and black smoke.”
Tariah said the smoke was so thick she had to stick her head out of the window so she could breathe fresh air.
It was through that window that firefighters were able to reach the father and daughter with the help of a ladder and got them to escape the smoke-filled apartment safely. Thankfully, no one else was hurt, though the cause of the fire remains unknown. According to PRP firefighters, the person on the first floor was able to get out safely and the other tenants in the apartment complex were also evacuated.
It took these brave firefighters close to 20 minutes to get the fire under control.
While holding back tears, Troy told reporters, “She saved my life. You know even afterward, I gave her a hug and told her, ‘Thank you.’”
Troy and Tariah were treated at the scene for minor smoke inhalation and are reported to be okay.
While Tariah’s fast thinking played a big part in their rescue, a firefighter with the PRP said that this story only underscores the importance of smoke detectors.
“Prime example right here that working smoke detectors save lives,” he said.
According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), smoke detectors have a lifespan of 10 years. If you’ve had yours for more than that, it’s time to get it replaced. It’s also important to routinely check if your smoke detector is working. To test it, press and hold the test button until it emits a loud, ear-piercing siren. You should also check the smoke detector’s battery to see if it needs to be replaced.
Indeed, kids can surprise us in many ways. This story proves that you don’t have to be an adult to save someone’s life. Heroes can come in small packages too.Troy Henderson