Fire Officials Launch Smoke Detector Awareness Campaign after Trailer Home Fire Claims Life of Eight-Year-Old Boy

An upstate New York trailer home fire in January 2014 claimed the lives of three people, including an eight-year-old boy trying to rescue his disabled grandfather. According to Penfield Fire Chief Chris Ebmeyer, the mobile home, which had eight occupants when the blaze broke out, did not have a smoke detector. Ebmeyer stated that a working smoke detector would have woken everyone up to evacuate the home safely. He said that the tragic fire caused the Penfield Fire Company, a volunteer unit, to launch a public awareness initiative about the important of smoke detectors. Ebmeyer said the fire is believed to be accidental and that one space heater was found in the home.

The fire broke out at 4:45 a.m. in January 2014 in the single-wide trailer in Penfield, New York. Before the fire department arrived, eight-year-old Tyler Doohan, who was visiting from East Rochester, woke six people up in the burning trailer, including two small children ages four and six. The six people were able to evacuate the home safely. However, when Tyler was standing with his aunt watching the fire consume the home, he realized that his disabled grandfather, who could not get out of the trailer on his own, was still inside. Tyler then broke away from his aunt to rescue his grandfather, whom he considered his best friend.

After already saving the lives of six people by waking them up, Tyler then ran back into the burning trailer to save his grandfather. However, according to fire officials, Tyler was overcome by smoke and flames while trying to lift his grandfather off of a bed in a back room. Their bodies were later found together on the bed. The body of another relative was also found in a front room. Tyler’s relation to the relative was unknown.
Ebmeyer said, “By that time, the fire had traveled to the back of the trailer. Unfortunately they both succumbed to heat and smoke.”

Crystal Vrooman, Tyler’s mother, said that she is proud of her son. She said, “It makes me really proud, it really does, but I just want him back.” Vrooman added, “All I could think about is how he couldn’t breathe. I’m just so grateful that he went with people he loved. He didn’t go alone.”

The condition of the six survivors was not known. However, the fire also claimed the lives of several family pets, including dogs, cats, a rabbit and hamsters. An online campaign raised $28,000 for Tyler’s funeral and his family.

Website Resource: 8-year-old boy rescues 6 relatives from fire, dies trying to save 7th, CNN, Chris Boyette, January 22, 2014

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