Teenager saves sibling, cousins in Dayton apartment fire; She’s being called a hero

UPDATE 8 p.m. (March 5): De'Errica Hines, realizing that the lives of her relatives were at stake, relied on faith -- as well as a cell phone and a shirt -- when she ran back inside a burning apartment complex on Briarwood Avenue last Thursday night.

The 15-year-old Summit Academy Transitional High School student put the cell phone to work as a flashlight, and used the shirt as a smoke shield, to rescue her 1-year-old sister and little cousins. Dayton fire investigators concluded the fire was an accident. The cause was electrical in nature, they said.

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District Chief David Wright said the origin of the fire appears to have been in a first-floor apartment and that smoke detectors activated as they should have.

De'Errica had been charged with looking out for the little ones because Mom was at work.

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De'Errica Hines, her mother and the little sister she rescued talk about what the teenager did to rescue the young one and two cousins from a fire in the apartment complex where they lived. (Michael Burianek/Staff)

De'Errica and her family lost their belongings in the fire, but she is gaining much more these days because of how she responded during -- and after -- an emergency.

"She's a real life hero. Usually, these stories... you see there on movies," Summit Academy teacher Dustin Williams told News Center 7's Lauren Clark on Monday.

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De'Errica was in school the morning after the fire, seemingly not at all flustered and concerned only that she was wearing the shirt she had on the night of the fire. The clothing on her back was all that was left.

The straight-A student wanted desperately to go on the field trip, Williams said.

He said when he found out what she had experienced the night before, her attitude stunned him. De'Errica didn't seem to be dwelling on her immediate past. She was looking toward the future and what she could learn from the field trip.

This week, Summit Academy students are wearing ribbons as a sign that each of them has donated a dollar or more to support De’Errica and her family. Already, at least $150 has been collected.

Students at the Summit Academy Transitional High School are wearing ribbons to symbolize their efforts to raise money for classmate De'Errica Hines and family, who lost everything in a fire March 1, 2018. (Michael Burianek/Staff)

HOW TO HELP: Here’s the link to the school Facebook page, where there is a list of what the family needs and information about a fundraiser:  

https://www.facebook.com/groups/SA.DaytonHighSchool/about/

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