‘We got to get out of here’: Heroic actions by boy, grandfather save neighbor from burning apartment

CHARLOTTE — Neighbors rescued a woman from a burning apartment Tuesday in west Charlotte, fire officials said.

Eleven-year-old Antoine Rivers alerted others that smoke was coming from a neighbor’s apartment along Brooktree Drive near Freedom Drive at about 6:45 p.m.

[ALSO READ: Couple jumps from second floor to escape south Charlotte apartment fire]

Antoine was walking to his neighbor’s door to show his friend a new hoverboard when he saw the smoke.

Antoine’s friend cried for help, because his mother was in the burning apartment.

Antoine’s grandfather, Marion Shepherd, got up and ran toward the apartment knowing the mother who lives there is bed ridden.

“And so I ran,” Shepherd said. “The kitchen was on fire. There was black smoke everywhere. I just crawled on my knees and crawled into the bedroom and got him and his mother. We had to get her out of bed and into her wheelchair.”

Huge flames and toxic smoke were coming from the kitchen.

“It was thick!” Shepherd said. “I mean, you could barely see the flames from the kitchen, because the smoke was black and thick and all through the house.”

He recalled saying, “We got to get out of here, or we are all gonna die in here.”

Smoke was coming from the two-story building when the Charlotte Fire Department arrived.

The fire department tweeted video of the fire showing Shepard entering the apartment engulfed in flames.

A lot of children believe their grandpas are heroes, but Antoine saw it for himself.

“I didn’t want my papa to go in there, but I also didn’t want my friend to lose his mom,” Antoine said.

Shephard and some neighbors were able to get the mother out safely. He said he didn’t think about his own safety before running in fire.

“She would have died,” Shephard said. “If I would have died too, if I had died, she would have died.”

The fire was under control in 10 minutes.

The fire was an accident caused by “unattended cooking,” and damages were about $12,000, investigators said.

Return to this story for updates.

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