VIRGINIA

11-year-old bangs doors to save lives in 4-alarm Woodbridge apartment fire

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Standing in the shade with dozens of other people left homeless after a huge fire at their apartment complex, Abena Owusu is worried she might be to blame.

Rylton Thomas, 11, tells ABC7 how he banged on doors and pulled alarms to help people get out of the burning apartments.
Woodbridge apartment fire, viewed from NewsChopper7.

She says she was cooking in her apartment with her husband, children and parents when suddenly there was fire.

“I just saw flames and the fire started burning,” she says. “I don't exactly what happened.”

While fire officials haven't said whether a specific person is responsible, they are looking at a propane device on the deck as the reason the fire sparked Thursday evening.

Residents chased from their homes by flames say within minutes the blaze tore through the top floor of the two buildings, devouring a significant section of the roof before the flames were extinguished. The intense heat didn't help.

It happened in the Woodbridge Station Apartments in the 1300 block of Eisenhower Circle.

Miraculously, fire officials say, there were no injuries and all residents are accounted for and that might well be thanks to Rylton Thomas.

The 11-year-old kept calm during chaos, banging on doors and pulling fire alarms.

"I was trying to save people's lives, cause some of my friends live in that building and I didn't want to see my friends go," Thomas says.

The fire left 100 people homeless. Twenty-four units were destroyed.

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