EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – As flames consumed her home and prevented her parents from helping, a quick-thinking 12-year-old girl saved two younger siblings Saturday by kicking out a second-story window and easing them down, firefighters said.
Derrionna Adams then leaped 15 feet to safety, East St. Louis Fire Chief William Fennoy said.
"She kicked the window out and stepped up onto the roof of the first floor and was able to pull her two siblings out," Fennoy said. "This was a blessed day."
Velma Dorris, the children's mother, and her husband, Bernard, were sleeping downstairs with three children when the fire started, authorities said. Smoke and flames kept them from reaching the children upstairs.
Meanwhile, oldest daughter Derrionna managed to guide her two siblings, a 9-year-old and an 8-year-old, onto the roof, Fennoy said. Once outside, the 9-year-old boy, Dedeonta Neal, noticed his younger sisters were missing, not knowing they were safe with his mother. The boy went back inside the burning building to find them, suffering burns on his arms before exiting.
He and the others jumped 15 feet from the roof, Fennoy said. The boy broke his ankle in the fall, but the other five children were uninjured.
The house was destroyed before firefighters could put out the blaze. Firefighters suspect a space heater started it, Fennoy said.
Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. said the 12-year-old girl was mature beyond her years.
"It is a tremendously courageous and wise way of dealing with the situation," Parks said. "We also look at the courage of the young man, the 9-year-old, of wanting to go back in."
Parks said the brother and sister would be honored, "as an example of what we all can be doing."