Chad Harris: A Hero Born in the Fire
By Robert Hull with Debbie White
The 700 Club
“There was smoke coming out of every window and door of the house.”
Chad Harris ran to the house and learned two boys were trapped inside. Petey, a three-year-old, had run to the back room when the fire broke out. His older brother Zachary ran upstairs. The smoke may have already overtaken both boys.
“Instantly without hesitation, me and my two roommates run in,” Chad tells The 700 Club. “It brought us to our knees immediately. We were instantly back out. We could not make it in. So I realized you can’t breathe when you go in. The smoke is like poison. It burns your throat; it burns your eyes.
“You know that there are people inside, and you know there is a chance that they can be saved. You can’t neglect that feeling in your heart.”
Chad and his roommates ran to the back of the house and broke out an elevated first floor window with hopes that they could save Petey. Smoke billowed out.
“We felt like it was our duty to do something because the grandmother was elderly, and the dad was hurt,” Chad recalls. “We were the first ones to the scene. We have a choice to make. Do we risk our lives for these boys?”
Without hesitation Chad made his decision.
“I jumped up, grabbed the windowsill, and I said, ‘Guys, push me in.’ A part of me just wanted to get in there so quick ‘cause I was afraid that we might already be too late.”
Chad took a deep breath and disappeared into the smoke filled room.
“I felt the nightstand. I felt a chair, and then I’d have to go back to the window. I’d run out of breath. The smoke was so thick that it would find a way to get into your nose and your eyes whether or not you wanted it to. You can’t really shut it out.”
Chad made several attempts to get further into the room, but as the smoke filled his lungs, his hope began to fade.
“I didn’t really even know if he was in that room. So it was kind of like we were going completely on faith and hope. I looked at one of my roommates, and I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this. I’m almost to the point where I can’t breathe anymore.’”
Chad and his roommates yelled into the room, hoping for some kind of response.
“All of a sudden, we hear a moan come from the room. My eyes got big, and it was like an extra shot of adrenaline.”
Chad took another breath and disappeared into the darkness.
“I went as far as I could, and I felt a little boy’s body. I started getting really scared ‘cause I knew that I was so far into the room, I didn’t really know which way the window was.”
Chad then did the only thing he could think of… he prayed.
“I was on my knees with the boy in my arms, and I just prayed to God. ‘I’m going to open my eyes for just like half a second ‘cause that’s about all I’m going to be able to do. I’m going to look for this light, and all I’m asking is that You show me the way back to this window, to this light, to this safety.’ I saw just a distant glow. It wasn’t very bright, but it was obviously the light from the window.”
Chad quickly went to the light of the window and lowered the boy into the arms of his friends. Chad jumped to safety then numbly watched as firefighters arrived and fought the blaze. Paramedics rushed Petey to the hospital. After several days in critical condition, Petey was released and has made a full recovery. Sadly, his seven-year-old brother Zachary perished in the fire.
“All I know is that God put me there at that time. I did what I felt I needed to do, and I was thankful that I made it out alive and that we got Petey out.”
Very little remains of the home. The fire claimed so much that day. A little boy is alive, saved by the courage of a neighbor willing to risk his life for another.
Chad emerged from the blaze a true hero. He learned a lesson about God’s saving grace from his time in the fire and humbly gives thanks to God for hearing his prayers.
“I prayed, and He answered my prayers immediately. It might be the only time in my life that it was that fast. One of the coolest things about the whole experience for me personally is that I reached out for His hand and it was there.”
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