Seventeen-year-old Samuel Hatten went outside of his family’s home to get the mail when he saw smoke pouring from the house.
That’s when the teenager from Tucson, Arizona, realized there was a fire spreading, according to KVOA, and his two little nieces — ages 6 months and 18 months — were peacefully napping inside. Hatten knew he had to do something, he says.
“I just wanted to get everybody out because I wanted us to still be a family and not have to lose anybody,” he told KVOA, “because I’ve lost a lot of people in my life.”
Hatten is a foster child. His foster father, Phil French, wrote on a GoFundMe page that he had married Hatten’s biological sister Courtney French. Hatten couldn’t enter the house from the front door because “smoke had completely engulfed the home,” the foster father wrote, so he broke the window to the girls’ bedroom and crawled inside.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Phil French shared a brief video of his dogs running out of the room as the fire starts.
Hatten told KVOA that he still remembers the chaotic moments as he tried to rescue the young girls.
“I grabbed both of them in my arms and climbed out the window backwards and swung my legs around and hopped out,” he said. “I came and sat right here by the post and sat down and started yelling for help.”
Firefighters rushed to the house at around 12:45 p.m. that day, according to Tucson.com. All three of the family’s dogs were saved, police say, and first responders put out the fire before it could spread from the one room that it started in.
No one was injured in the fire, according to Tucson.com. Red Cross is giving help to the family as they wait for their home to be repaired.
Phil French wrote on GoFundMe that the fire started in Hatten’s room when a light switch in his room “absolutely randomly” blew up.
So the man said he’s trying to crowdfund for the teenager, who lost “everything” in the fire, for saving his two girls and pets.
“I could not be more grateful for him saving everyone,” Phil French wrote. “But everything that was in his room is gone. I’m trying to do something for him for saving our family.”
The family will be in a hotel while their house is repaired, KVOA reported. But Hatten, who lost his prized skateboard, said he’s taking it all in stride.
“I was kind of distraught at first but I felt better now because I know that they are going to be in my life and I know that I’m not going to lose them,” he said. “”We all look out for the babies, the dogs. We look out for each other, we’re trying to stay strong and hoping for the best.”