Five friends in a western New Brunswick community are being called heroes after rescuing two people from a burning house over the weekend.
Deven Lennon said he and his friends were driving around Tobique First Nation, north of Perth-Andover, looking for the next place to hang out at about 3 a.m. Sunday, when they spotted the flames along New Road.
“My first instinct was, ‘Is there anybody inside? We got to find out if anybody’s inside,” said the 24-year-old.
Immediately, the five friends, who played hockey and graduated high school together, jumped into action.
Lennon said he ran to the back porch and kicked the door open, but the smoke was too thick to go inside.
“If I went in I would’ve fainted somewhere in the house,” he said.
‘We gotta get them out’
But as he turned around to leave, Lennon said, he heard people yelling. A father and son were inside the house, he said.
“The boy was yelling saying, ‘Help, help,'” said Lennon. “My adrenalin was rushing so bad I was like, ‘We gotta get them out, we gotta get them out.'”
‘It was just natural human instincts. And this is where I grew up, this is my community.’– James Perley, rescuer
James Perley, another rescuer, said the entire porch was in flames, which were travelling into the house. The father and son were barely visible.
“There was so much smoke it covered them in charcoal,” he said.
Perley, 24, said he’s never experienced anything like this.
“My adrenalin was pumping,” he said from his home at Tobique, just down the road from where the house fire was.
“It was just natural human instincts. And this is where I grew up, this is my community.”
Eventually, Lennon noticed a teen’s head emerging from a small window, about eight feet from the ground. The group found a bookshelf and attempted to pull him out, while the father pushed.
‘My adrenalin was rushing so bad I was like, ‘We gotta get them out, we gotta get them out.'”– Deven Lennon
“This universe works in mysterious ways because everything happens for a reason,” Perley said.
“That bookshelf was there for a reason.”
The rescue continued for several minutes.
“We just kept telling his father, ‘You gotta push your boy out that window … if not, you guys will die,'” he said.
“We pulled and pulled as hard as we could until that boy got out of that window.
“We said, ‘We’re here. We won’t leave your side,” Perley said. “I told the boys, ‘We got to get him out now, cause that fire is right there.'”
As soon as his son was free, the father jumped out of the building.
From there, Lennon ordered the father and son to get into the truck, where it was warm.
The rescuers, who also included Houston Bear, Elleas Nicholas and Branden Dixon, ran around looking for blankets and water to keep the pair hydrated and warm.
Lennon said thoughts of his father inspired him to help, since both his father and uncle served in the military.
“Yes, I was putting my life in danger,” he said from his home. “It was the right thing to do.”
An unforgettable event
Friends and family of the rescuers have been hailing them as heroes, but the fire left the group shaken. Lennon said he’s had nightmares since it happened.
“That father and that son would not be with us at this moment,” he said. “I’m glad my friends, my boys, my brothers were with me to help this family out to safety.”
Jason Moulton, fire chief of the Tobique First Nation Fire Department, said the house was in flames by the time firefighters got there.
He applauded the five friends for being in the right place at the right time, although he cautioned the public in general against going into burning buildings.
Without proper breathing apparatus, untrained rescuers can suffer from smoke inhalation, he said.
“They were already there when we arrived on scene,” Moulton said of the five friends. “I was thankful that they did get them out.”
There were seven firefighters on scene with the fire department, which extinguished the fire in about four hours.
Both the father and son suffered smoke inhalation and were sent to Hotel-Dieu of St. Joseph Hospital in Perth-Andover. Moulton said they were still in hospital on Sunday night.
The fire destroyed the Tobique home.
“Part of it is still standing,” he said. “I think they’ll have to demolish it and then repair it.”