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Brother, 8, comes through under pressure

Eight-year-old Jermaine Smith remembered what the firefighters said when they came to Shiloh Elementary School.

He also liked the big red firetruck, but that wasn’t important last Sunday when his trailer home caught fire.

Because of Jermaine’s decision to crawl under the smoke, leading his 5-year-old brother Jerrame, the two youngsters survived the early morning blaze.

“Thank God, we got out all right,” said Laronica Smith, who was in the burning trailer with three of her children. “When I saw all that smoke, I was just crazy out of my mind.”

She recalled what she saw when she became aware of the situation.

“I remember waking up,” she said. “I woke up to a room of smoke.”

Laronica Smith tried to yell out to her two sons. A 2-year-old daughter, Jerrelle, was in bed with her.

“I was standing up,” she said. “I tried to scream, but the smoke was taking my breath away.”

About this time, Jermaine Smith realized his home was on fire.

“It was hard to wake (Jerrame) up,” said Smith, who managed to rouse his brother. “I was crawling and we were holding hands.”

The two boys were able to locate their mother.

“I heard, ‘Mama, Mama,’” Laronica Smith said. “I kept trying to say something so they could find me. The 8-year-old crawled under the smoke and got to my legs. I could tell the 5-year-old had been standing up because his face was just black.”

Mrs. Smith then broke open the bedroom window and got the children out of the trailer.

“I just balled my fist up and knocked the window out in the bedroom,” she said. “After I got the 2-year-old out, Jermaine tried to hang on to the window, so I shoved him out. Then I got the 5-year-old out the window.”

Because Jermaine Smith balked at going out the window, he cut an artery and tendon in his arm and was airlifted to Birmingham for surgery. “I’m still wearing the Band-Aids,” he said Friday.

“I asked him, ‘How did you wake up to know that there was a fire?’” Laronica Smith asked Jermaine. “He said he saw smoke.”

In another stroke of good fortune, Patricia Sanders — a nurse — lived across from the Smiths. She was able to bandage Jermaine’s arm to control the bleeding.

The family’s oldest child, 12-year-old Octavia, luckily was staying with her aunt that night. The fast-moving electrical fire apparently started in her room.

Through it all, Mrs. Smith said, “We are blessed. We haven’t missed a thing. We are staying at a friend’s house, and we have gotten so much support from friends, the school and churches.”