Maryland Kid Saves Family from House Fire
When asked about his mother, 13-year-old Taji Lee told a reporter, “I love her to death.”
On the night of November 29th, that love saved his mother’s life – and his sister’s, too.
“I didn’t want to think about what might have happened if I didn’t help,” Taji later said in an interview with the Prince George’s County Gazette.
That night, Taji, his mom and his sister were at home in Lanham, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC, when they smelled smoke.
Taji’s mother has multiple sclerosis.
That’s a disease that makes it difficult for her to walk.
So Taji went upstairs to investigate.
That’s when he saw the flames.
According to published reports, he ran next door and told a neighbor to call 911.
“(Then) I went and got the fire extinguisher,” he told Gazette reporter Daniel Gross. “But it was hard to breathe (inside his home). And I wasn’t able to put (the fire) out.”
At this point, Taji’s mom, Karen Lee, decided she wanted to see what was going on upstairs, too.
“I was kind of arguing with him that I want(ed) to get upstairs to see what was happening – because I’m your mother,” she said, in an interview with Washington, DC, TV station WUSA.
But Taji wasn’t having it – even though he was taught not to disobey his parents.
“They tell me, ‘Only if you need to disobey the rules, then you can disobey them,’” Taji told WUSA reporter Kristin Fisher. “I thought this was one of those moments.”
So instead of letting his mom try to go upstairs and check out the fire, Taji picked her up and carried her out of their burning house.
“He told me later on, ‘It’s like the firemen carry. I threw her over my shoulder and took her out of the home,” Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor told WUSA.
Taji also got his 8-year-old sister out.
Then, he said, he locked the front door – to make sure nobody went back inside the house while he wasn’t looking.
“I’m extremely proud,” said Taji’s dad, Al-Rahn Lee, in an interview with the Gazette. “He always seeks to do what is right, to do what is good.”
(Taji’s dad wasn’t home at the time, according to media reports.)
“When it really mattered, my son came through,” Taji’s mom told Washington, DC, TV station WJLA. “I’ll never forget that he screamed, ‘I love you. I don’t want you to die.’”
“I’m so proud that (he) didn’t listen to me,” she added, in an interview with WUSA. “Because (if he had) I may not have made it out of that house.”
When asked if he was scared, Taji told a reporter he didn’t think so.
“I think I just knew what to do,” he told WUSA. “Someone was in trouble. And I felt the need to help.”
On December 14th, the Prince George’s County Fire Department honored Taji at an assembly at his school, Thomas Johnson Middle School.
“We’re here to honor one of your own,” Chief Bashoor told his classmates. “Maybe one day, he’ll be one of our own.”
“I am very, very proud,” said Karen Lee, in an interview with Washington, DC, TV station WRC. “(Taji) is my little hero.”