Boy saves family

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 5, 2005

While most families view Easter as a time of rebirth and renewal, the Hayes and the Jones families now view it as a time to give thanks.

On Sunday, March 27, Devaria Hayes visited the home of his aunt, Kathleen Jones, to show off his Easter clothing. While there, an iron with faulty wiring ignited a fire in a bedroom of Jones’ home.

Hayes, a Tipton Jr. High School 7th grader, took immediate action.

“I panicked,” said Jones. “I tried to put it out myself with water, but my nephew said, ‘I’m going to get help’ and then I heard him calling out to his grandfather and father.”

Hayes ran home, got a fire extinguisher, came back to the house, and put out the fire.

“I did not panic because I already knew what to do,” Hayes said.

He credits this knowledge of fire safety procedures to his father, Westerfield Hayes Sr., who did a fire drill with his family about a week before his aunt’s home caught fire.

Although a total of four people were present at the time of the fire, no one was injured and the home was not destroyed. The fire, however, did cause major damage to the bedroom. Jones said that the carpeting, walls, and windows of that room were affected by the fire and the smoke.

“We are proud of him,” said Jones. “I told him how much I love him and that I thank God for him.

Despite the damage, she views this incident as a personal learning experience and also as a way to send a message to other families.

“I learned that when you try to put fire out with water and only have a bucket, it’s going to put out just a little bit of fire,” said Jones. “But when you have a fire extinguisher, it’s going to take care of the whole job.”

Ironically, Jones had a fire extinguisher in her home.

“I had one, but put it away because the children were playing with it,” she said.

She said that she now realizes the importance of keeping the fire extinguisher visible and within easy reach.

“I want to make sure that other families read this article, and that it opens up their minds to the

importance of having fire extinguishers, and doing more fire drills, more often in their own homes,” said Jones. “I want this to be a wake up call to families because once you go through a loss, you can’t get it back.”

Jones joked that her nephew saved the Selma Fire Department some work, but would to thank them for cleaning up the debris left by the fire extinguisher and making sure that the fire was completely out.

“When asked how he felt about possibly saving the lives and the home of his family, Hayes, who wants to be a police officer when he gets older, simply said, “I feel great.”

According to 2001 statistics, Alabama ranks fourth in the nation for the rate of fire related deaths.

For more information about protecting your family from fire, please visit the U.S. Fire Administration’s website at www.usfa.fema.gov/safety/.