A sleeping child inside a burning two-story house. Two teens stuck on the roof.
That was the scene Rock Hill Fire Capt. Chris Channell walked into around 12:15 a.m. Saturday at 405 W. Main St., Apt. C.
He spied two 15-year-old shirtless and shoeless boys perched atop the roof.
A neighbor pointed to a window behind which a 9-year-old was believed to be sleeping. The boy's 10-year-old brother had escaped the house on his own.
Channell and four other Rock Hill firefighters rounded the house and hoisted a ladder near the window. Then, firefighters James Crimmins and Kevin Steele climbed the ladder and went inside.
Within a minute, Steele found Tyrese Thompson, 9. The former Old Pointe Elementary School student was on the bedroom floor next to his bed.
"He (Steele) hollered back to me, 'I found him,'" Channell said. "I hollered back, 'Bring him to me. I'm still on the ladder.'
"He (Thompson) was unresponsive with shallow breathing," Channell added. "I cradled h
Channell carried Thompson to paramedics, and he was whisked off to Piedmont Medical Center, where he was revived and became responsive, according to a police report. He later was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, where he was listed in critical condition Saturday night, a CMC spokesowman said. A police report states he suffered no external burns.
Thompson's older brother, Cornell Thompson, managed to escape the house and stood about 10 feet beneath teenagers Darryl Coleman and Swadarious Presley.
"They crawled out a bedroom window and got to the roof," Battalion Chief Mark Simmons said. "They told us they had a working smoke detector, and it woke them up."
Firefighter Jason Dillon raised a ladder in the direction of one of the teens.
"I told him that I was coming up," Dillon recalled. "He was scared. He wanted to come down the ladder face-first."
But Dillon had the teen turn around and back his way down.
Then, Dillon repositioned the ladder to where the other teen sat.
"He appeared a little calmer," Dillon recalled. "I told him that I was coming to get him next."
The second teen made his way down the ladder. Both were taken to PMC. Their conditions were not available Saturday evening.
"It's your worst nightmare," Dillon said about the youths being trapped by the fire. "These three kids have been given a second chance in life for a reason."
Fire started in kitchen
The fire originated in the kitchen, which was adjacent to the bedroom where Tyrese Thompson was found, Simmons said.
"Apparently, somebody had left something cooking on the stove," he said.
No adult was in the home with the children, Simmons said.
Zanita Thompson, the mother of the children, had stepped out to run an errand, according to the police report.
The Herald could not reach Zanita Thompson for comment; however, she arrived as firefighters worked to contain the blaze, Simmons said.
The fire was contained within 10 minutes, but officials continued to work hot spots until about 2:15 a.m. Saturday, Simmons said.
The fire was deemed accidental, Battalion Chief Ben Funderburk said. The apartment suffered fire and water damage estimated at $50,000, he said.
'A joyful little boy'
Hours after the fire, a former Old Pointe assistant principal recalled Tyrese Thompson.
"He always came to school with a smile on his face," Latoya Dixon said. "One day, he needed a quarter to buy breakfast, and I gave it to him. He said, 'Thank you,' and he hugged me."
Fire Captain Channell frequently ate lunch at Old Pointe with his 8-year-old son, Carson, who was in the same class with Tyrese.
"He is a joyful little boy," Channell said. "I pray ... that he pulls through."
The displaced family is being assisted by the American Red Cross.