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Fire crews rescue boy who crawled on roof to escape burning Milwaukee house

Published: Sep. 20, 2020 at 3:52 AM EDT
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MILWAUKEE (WISN) - Despite the destruction of his home in a fire, a 12-year-old Milwaukee boy is alive after he used a technique he learned on a field trip to escape the flames.

J.J. Heine, 12, had been the only one on the second floor of his Milwaukee home when it caught fire early Friday morning.

“I tried going out to my playroom to go downstairs to my parents to wake them up and call the cops, but there was too much smoke. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t really walk out,” J.J. said. “I kept staying in my room for a couple seconds, thinking what to do. Then, I had enough, so I opened the window up and put my head out to breathe.”

The boy’s mother, Katie Carmody, tried multiple times to get upstairs but couldn’t get through the smoke. But when she went outside, she spotted the 12-year-old on the porch roof.

“Before I seen him on the roof, I thought he was dead. I was terrified. It was scary,” Carmody said.

J.J. had crawled out his window and begun yelling for help. Neighbors and his family called 911.

“He was crouched down, like ‘Get me down! I’m scared!’” Carmody said.

When fire crews arrived, they used a ladder to bring J.J. down to safety. Everyone else inside the home was able to get out as well.

Battalion Chief Darin Peterburs says J.J. credited a field trip with saving his life. He attended “Survive Alive House” last year, a Milwaukee fire program that educates grade schoolers on how to survive a house fire.

“He did learn that if conditions were poor enough that he couldn’t make it out of the door to crawl out the window, and he did just that,” Peterburs said.

While J.J.'s family is thankful everyone made it out of the fire, their home is now destroyed. They believe the cause was an electrical failure within the home’s walls.

“The whole back of the house is horrible, so I don’t know how we’re going to come back from this one,” Carmody said.

Copyright 2020 WISN via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.

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