Nathaniel Mejia still has to do his chores. But for a little while, he’ll hold a place of honor in his family.
The quick thinking of the Derry teenager saved his home and three pets from burning on Wednesday, March 6.
Mejia, 16, was taking a nap when he was awakened by smoke detectors going off in his 8 Belmont Terrace home. He went downstairs to discover a significant amount of smoke in the kitchen and saw the stove, stove hood and above-counter cabinets on fire.
“I heard the alarms go off, heard an explosion,” Meija said.
What was going on in his head? “I was scared,” Meija said. “But I knew what to do.”
He had had extensive fire prevention training at his former school in Methuen, Mass., and part of that included a video about extinguishers.
Mejia grabbed a kitchen fire extinguisher, extinguished the flames, opened windows, and took the three family dogs “two Pomeranians and a Yorkie” outside, placing them in a family car.
His mother, who was picking up other children from school, returned home and called 911.
Though Nathaniel’s quick response saved his home, it has not whetted an appetite for a fire career. The Pinkerton Academy sophomore wants to be a senior technician for X-ray tubing.
According to a press release by Derry Fire Battalion Chief Jack Webb, Engines 1, 2, 3 and 4, Tanker 1, Medic 1 and Car 1 responded to the 911 call. Upon arriving at the home, they found an extinguished fire with fire and smoke damage to the stove, kitchen hood and cabinets, and smoke damage throughout the first floor.
Webb said initial crews used hand tools, thermal imaging and a water extinguisher to deal with any remaining fire, while confirming the fire was contained to the stove, range hood and cabinets.
The origin of the fire is believed to be the fan motor in the kitchen hood, Webb said, though the exact cause of the failure is yet to be determined.
The department commended Mejia for his quick thinking and his parents, Edwin and Carmen, for having fire extinguishers available.