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March 7, 2014

Derry teen praised for extinguishing fire

Quick-thinking teen saves home, pets


“When I saw the smoke coming from the second-floor balcony, I wanted to die,” she said. “I said, ‘What if he was sleeping?’ We are blessed that he was here.”

Edwin Mejia was driving home when Nathaniel called him about the fire, which has been linked to a malfunctioning fan in the hood over the stove, according to Battalion Chief Jack Webb of the Derry Fire Department.

“He saved the house, I’m very proud of him,” Edwin Mejia said. “He happened to be in the right place.”

The family, who moved from Lawrence seven months ago, will be living in a hotel while their home is repaired, he said.

Webb praised the boy as well.

“The Derry Fire Department would like to commend Nathaniel Mejia for his quick action and his parents, Edwin and Carmen Mejia, for providing a home that includes working smoke detectors and an extinguisher,” he said in a statement.

Nathaniel said his father taught him how to use a fire extinguisher when he was young, and that his parents taught him and his brothers about the importance of fire safety. The teen said he also learned in school what to do when a fire breaks out at home.

It’s those types of lessons and working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that can mean the difference between life and death, according to Assistant State Fire Marshal Max Schultz.

The fire at the Mejia home comes only days after another Derry resident, 48-year-old Michael Lacharitie, died of smoke inhalation in a blaze at his Island Pond Road home. The only smoke alarm in the home was found in the basement and fire officials were not sure if it was working before the fatal blaze.

“We’ve already had eight fire deaths this year,” Shuttles said. “Most of those didn’t have working detectors.”

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