CROSSVILLE (WATE) – Two boys are being credited with saving their baby sister when their house caught on fire last week. The home, though, was a total loss.
The fire was reported on Harrison Avenue Tuesday around 6:30 p.m., according to Fire Chief Mike Turner. Family members say mom Sarah Strong was at work and her boyfriend Brian Brockway was cutting the grass when the fire started.
The family says Donnie Strong, 11, and Elyjah Brockway, 13, were inside watching TV with 18-month-old Abby Strong-Brockway at the time. The two boys scooped up their baby sister and ran out of the house, just in the nick of time.
Their story could have taken a different turn if it had not been for two brothers who saved their 18-month old sister from the flames.
“It makes me feel real proud,” Brian Brockway said. “Because without my kids, I don’t know what I would do.”
Those brothers are being hailed heroes after witnessing the fire ignited inside their Crossville home with just seconds to react.
“I was breathing heavy. My legs were shaking. I was kind of scared at the time too,” Elyjah Brockway said. “I grabbed my sister and ran out of the house telling Donnie to get out too.”
Chief Turner says the fire started in a downstairs bedroom when a battery charger failed and caused a short. The fire spread rapidly to a nearby closet and into the upstairs area.
The brothers only had seconds to escape. The boys credit their survival instincts to fire safety lessons in both school and at home.
“Our family has been doing fire drills on what to do if we had a fire and all that,” Donnie Strong said.
Their father, Brian, was outside doing yard work at the time. He said he could not be more relieved to know his children are okay.
“It’s something you never want to go through, especially knowing that your kids are inside and in danger and you’re not there,” Brian Brockway said.
The fire took their home and all of their belonging, but Sarah Strong, mother of three, said she’s been overwhelmed with the love and support from the community during this difficult time.
“The support that we had, just people reaching out to say is there anything we can do, has just been amazing,” Sarah Strong said.
Though they lost so much, they said the tragedy has brought them closer and they are grateful to have their family by their side.
“She’s my sister,” Elyjah Brockway said. “I love her to death. I’d do anything for her. Family is the one thing I can’t put a price on.”
One firefighter was treated for cuts to his hand and others were treated as a precautionary measure to prevent heat exhaustion.
The home was destroyed in the fire. A GoFundMe page has been started to help the family replace belongings that were lost.