An Indiana man is being celebrated for his bravery after running into a raging house fire to save four children and an 18-year-old earlier this week.
Nicholas Bostic, a 25-year-old pizza delivery driver, happened to be driving past a home in the city of Lafayette at around 12:30 a.m. on Monday when he saw that a two-story house was on fire, according to a news release from the Lafayette police.
He feared people might be trapped inside but didn’t have his phone with him to call 911 and decided to go into the home himself, he told ABC 7 Chicago. As it turned out, five people were inside the house: Four siblings ages 1, 6, 13 and 18, and another 13-year-old who was sleeping over.
Bostic was able to get in through a back door, yelling to see if anyone inside could hear him. His shouting woke up the eldest sibling, who in turn was able to wake up the two younger teens and grab her 1-year-old sister before Bostic led them outside to safety.
“For a minute I didn’t understand it, but my sister ran upstairs with the baby in her hands and yelling at us to get up because there’s a fire,” 13-year-old Shaylee Barrett told the Purdue Exponent. “And for a minute I froze and I laid there because I was confused. That’s when we went downstairs and Nick was downstairs helping us.”
But one child hadn’t made it out yet.
“I asked them if anybody was left in there ― and that’s when they told me that the 6-year-old was,” Bostic told ABC 7 Chicago.
He went back inside, searching different rooms, under beds and in closets through what he described to journalist Dave Bangert as a “lagoon of smoke.”
“I don’t know how to explain it, but it was like I accepted I was going to probably die, right there, that night,” he said in an interview published on the journalist’s Substack. “But it was a weird calm. You just got to work as fast as you can.”
He eventually found the girl and carried her out, punching through a window to get out of the home that was becoming engulfed in flames.
Police video from the scene shows Bostic dropping to the ground after the rescue, exclaiming that he needs oxygen and asking, “Is the baby OK?”
Bostic went to the hospital to be treated for severe smoke inhalation as well as cuts to his arm from punching the window, but has since been released. The home’s occupants all escaped without serious injury. The family dog, Buffy, was also rescued by EMTs who arrived at the scene.
The fire department believes that the fire started due to ashes that had been emptied into a bucket on the porch before they were fully extinguished, the Lafayette Journal & Courier reported.
The children’s parents, David and Tiera Barrett, had gone out for a date night and returned to find their burning home surrounded by emergency vehicles. Both expressed immense gratitude to their community and to Bostic.
“I literally told him he’s now part of our family,” David Barrett told the Exponent. “And he was all on board with it. Once we get settled someplace, we’re going to invite him over and his girlfriend for dinner.”
The police department called Bostic’s actions “nothing short of courageous and heroic” and the city will be honoring him at an upcoming Lafayette Aviators baseball game, where ticket sales with the code FUND2022 will be going to help fund Bostic’s medical expenses. A Facebook fundraiser that Bostic confirmed on his own page was legitimate had raised more than $21,000 as of Saturday.
Bostic has downplayed his own heroism.
“Like I keep saying, it’s not like I’m some superstar hero,” he told Bangert. “I was at the right place, the right time, and, I guess, the right person.”