MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) – An 11-year-old boy survived flames and a jump from a second-floor window in order to save his family from their burning apartment. Days later the community is stepping up to help after the fire destroyed all of the family’s Christmas presents.
“I woke up smelling smoke,” said Antonio Brown.
Brown immediately got to work formulating an escape plan. Not for himself, but for his 10-year-old brother.
“I just woke him up and I unlocked the door and I told him to get out the house,” said Brown.
Brown said he went back into the burning apartment to search for his father. But when it came time for Antonio to leave, he said the door was too hot to touch. It didn’t slow him down.
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“I went back and started punching and kicking the window and then I jumped out of the window,” he said.
Broken shards of glass left Brown with cuts, he had to get stitches for and both of his ears were burned. But his mind remained preoccupied with other things.
“When I had got out the fire, I started thinking about my dog and how could I get him out, but I can’t get him ‘cause it was too hot in there,” he said.
Brown’s heroic instincts surprised even his mother.
“I just didn’t think that an 11-year-old would think like that. I just – it’s like he just took action,” said Tamika Brown-Ayers.
But after initial relief, reality soon set in. The fire had left the Browns with practically nothing – not even their Christmas presents.
“I was crying when I was in the hospital ‘cause I was thinking about all the stuff we had in there and we lost it,” said Brown.
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It didn’t take long for the support to come pouring in. Family friend Brittany Townsend said Power Center Academy where she and one of the Browns graduated paid for the family to stay in a hotel.
Townsend started a Gofundme account to raise money for the Browns.
“That’s my best friend. She’s like my sister. I’d give the clothes off my back if I had to so I did everything in my power,” said Townsend.
Reco Spencer said his employer is planning to donate enough money to help the Browns celebrate Christmas the way they were planning.
“I should have all of those plans together tomorrow so that they have time to go shopping and get a few things and replace some of the things that they’ve lost,” Spencer said.
The outpouring of support brought tears of joy to Brown-Ayers’ eyes.
“It makes me feel so good that I got babies that people really care about. I got a husband and myself that people really care about. It just makes me feel good,” she said.