Father saves children and dog from Grand Rapids fire

10:52 AM, Dec 8, 2009   |    comments
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A Grand Rapids man saved his children and dog from a fire at 253 Barnett Street.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)-  Grand Rapids father Jonathan Brito says he was determined to rescue his children from their burning house, or die trying.

"If I've got to jump through fire to save my kid's lives that's what I'm going to do," said 26-year-old Brito.

Investigators say that sparks from an electrical outlet caught a curtain on fire.  The fire then spread to other furnishings, including an artificial Christmas tree.

The flames spread so quickly and the smoke was so dense Jonathan Brito says he couldn't find his 2-year-old son Kaidon and 4-year-old son Jaedon.

"The whole living room is up in flames," says Brito. "I asked my wife where the kids were. She's screaming 'The kids are upstairs'. I'm calling them, but I can't hear them."

"The TV exploded," says Brtio's wife Charlene Hernandez. "The windows exploded. It was fast. It was so fast."

Brito says he felt his way up the stairs through the dense smoke.

"I just know exactly where the stairs are so I went right up and I opened the door and sure enough the boys were in the corner on the floor. "

"They were hiding in the room," says Hernandez.

After carrying the children to safety, Brito went back into the house to rescue Punchy, the family dog.

"Went in the back and he was laying down," says Brito. "I pulled him out."

"The dog wasn't breathing," says Hernandez. "He had to kind of perform doggy CPR on him. He got the dog to breathe.  He coughed up some smoke and took off running."

Hernandez and Brito both work the night shift. He's a chef, and she works for a car parts manufacturer. Their other two children were at school when the fire started.  They lost all of their clothes, furniture, housewares, toys and even some Christmas presents.

"Thank goodness everybody got out of the house safely," says Brito.


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