'Somebody's life is on the line': Off-duty firefighter, young boy save 2 from burning home




Isabel Hughes Via Delaware News Journal


Larry "Bub" DuHadaway was at his Glasgow-area home Thursday afternoon when he got a text message from Christiana Fire Company.


A former deputy chief with the department and full-time firefighter/paramedic in Maryland, he receives alerts when Christiana fire personnel are called to an incident.


While this notification was nothing out of the ordinary — units were responding to a structure fire in the 200 block of Rice Drive — DuHadaway recognized the address, located "a couple streets over" from him. Though the career firefighter was off-duty, he jumped in his car and drove to the house.


What happened next has people calling DuHadaway a hero.


One of the first on scene, DuHadaway saw two little boys in the driveway and "a lot of smoke coming from the back of the house." He ran to check where the fire was coming from and saw the home's enclosed porch was "fully engulfed" in flames.


Turning to one of the boys — a 7-year-old who is being credited with saving his younger brother from a second-story bedroom — DuHadaway asked if anyone was still inside.


"Most of the time you get an answer of 'no,'" DuHadaway said. "But he said, 'Yes, my grandmother is right there,' and pointed to the sliding door of the sunroom."


DuHadaway knew if the boy's 91-year-old grandmother was still in the back room, he wouldn't be able to reach her and she likely wouldn't still be alive.


But "just by freak nature," he decided to go around to the front of the house and look through the door.


"I got down on the ground and I could see a shoe, probably about 10 to 15 feet in," DuHadaway said. "And then I could make out a leg, so I just pulled my sweatshirt over my nose and went in."


DuHadaway didn't have any protective gear, nor did he have an oxygen mask. That didn't cross his mind, though, as he pulled the woman, who had collapsed, to safety.


"I didn't even think about it," he said. "I've been with Christiana for 30 years. I've been a career fireman for 15 years. It's just one of those things where somebody's life is on the line, so you just go."


Thursday isn't the first time DuHadaway has jumped into action while off-duty.

In July 2018, he was driving to the Delaware beaches with his family when he witnesses a horrific accident on Route 1.


He quickly stopped along the busy highway and started what he described as “rapid triage.” Despite his efforts and those of many others who stopped to help — and first responders who quickly arrived — five people died.


DuHadaway said Friday his instinct to help those in need is natural, given he's a third-generation firefighter.


What really impressed him about Thursday's events, he said, was the 7-year-old's actions. The boy called 911 after getting his brother out of the home and urged his grandmother to get out, too.


"People can learn from that little boy because he was as calm as can be," DuHadaway said. "He did the right thing, and his parents ought to be very proud of him. At his age, it's just remarkable."


The woman suffered serious burns in the blaze and is being treated at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia. As of Friday afternoon, the State Fire Marshal's Office had not given an update on her condition.


Officials said the blaze was caused by a malfunction in a pellet stove on the porch.

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