RINGWOOD, N.J.(CBSNewYork) — A Ringwood, New Jersey home was destroyed by a fire but the family that it belonged to made it out safely thanks to a quick-thinking young boy.
“If it weren’t for Vincent waking us up I don’t know what would have happened,” Jessica Wood said.
The family of Vincent Rende, 9, may owe him their lives, CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock reported.
On Thanksgiving night, the chimney in the family’s home got so hot that it ignited the wood beams inside of the building’s walls.
The family’s four children were sleeping in the same room when Vincent smelled smoke.
“It was like choking me. I had trouble breathing,” he said, “I put my head under my pillow so I could get a little bit of fresh air.”
He called his brother and sister who heard his shouts.
“When I woke up I looked at the wall and the flames were coming from the electrical outlet,” Jessica said, “If Vince didn’t wake up, since it was right next to my bed, it would have lit my bed up and we all would have been burned.”
The fire spread fast and engulfed a bedroom wall in 30 seconds. It spread through the attic and destroyed prized family possessions, clothes, bedding, and mattresses, but the Rende family made it out alive.
“Vincent saved our lives,” Debbi Demaio-Rende said.
The family is struggling to get back on their feet. They don’t have renters insurance and no place to call home.
“We’re devastated. It’s traumatizing to lose your home, but now looking for a place to stay for your children every night is really hard,” Demaio-Rende said.
Despite the devastation the family is eternally grateful to their 9-year-old hero. The Red Cross provided the family with three days worth of housing and assistance. The family is not staying with friends until they can find permanent housing.
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