Oakland neighborhood helps save family after house catches fire; fireworks likely to blame

ByJ.R. Stone and Leslie Brinkley KGO logo
Wednesday, July 7, 2021
Fireworks likely to blame for overnight Oakland house fire
Six young adults are being hailed as heroes after alerting residents their Oakland home was on fire.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- At 2 a.m. on July 5, in East Oakland south of Lake Merritt, flames erupted from the rooftop of a two-story home.

Officials told the family that lives there, "It was probably irresponsible, illegal fireworks that went up on the roof," Eileen Tarrell said to ABC7 News.

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Tarrell is a friend of the family who was inside, which included two seniors, a husband and his wife who is blind, and their daughter who can't hear very well. All three were in their rooms on the top floor, directly below the roof that caught fire.

"The daughter was awake and she started seeing red flashes and she heard banging but she didn't know what it was," says Tarrell.

It's likely those noises came from neighbors who were trying to help.

VIDEO: Neighbors hail 6 young people as 'heroes' in Oakland house fire

Six young adults are being hailed as heroes after alerting residents their Oakland home was on fire.

A 25-year-old Oakland man named David was hanging out with his friends.

"We seen smoke and seen visible flames and we were like, 'man that house is on fire,' so we instantly just broke running down the street," he said.

Now three men and three women are being heralded as heroes by neighbors like Katie Klerhorst.

"Nowadays especially, you tend to just see people recording events on their phone and not taking action," she said.

David said he called 911 and then climbed over a fence and started kicking at the front door and yelling. His girlfriend started throwing pebbles at windows to wake up the residents.

David said, "while I got the water hose, I started the initial attack on the fire where the visible flames were located."

VIDEO: Family with COVID, without sense of smell escapes house fire

They have COVID-19 and couldn't smell the smoke from their burning home, but a teenage family member could and saved them.

The residents got out just in time, although one suffered smoke inhalation.

The Oakland fire department sent 26 firefighters in five engines.

They're still investigating whether or not fireworks could have triggered the blaze.

One of the so-called heroes is Kyle Brenes.

"The feeling going through my body was compassion," he said. "I would want somebody to come ring my bell and try to wake me if there were a fire in my home. God put us in the right place at the right time. We just did our duty as humans you know."

RELATED: Several injured, rescued from San Francisco house fire

His girlfriend Demountria Williams said " I couldn't stand there and just watch it. I wanted to make sure whoever was in there was going to get out of that house."

Thankfully, the family was able to get out with the help of those neighbors. The husband suffered smoke inhalation, but will be okay.

The family says they are thankful to have escaped with their lives.

"That's what the daughter said. If the neighbors hadn't been banging, they would have never known because the daughter who lives here said all she knew is that there was red flashing, but that could have been anything. So, it was the neighbors that got them out really," says Tarrell.

With so many stories about crime and violence emanating from Oakland, these young people want the world to know something.

As David said, "Some young individuals are misunderstood and we do have have goodness in our hearts. And there is good people out here in Oakland, California."

A GoFundMe has been set up for the family, if you would like to help, click here.