Wednesday, April 8, 2009

4-year-old saves family from fire

Child learned safety from Bethlehem Centers By Andy Humbles • THE TENNESSEAN • April 8, 2009 Andy Humbles / The Tennessean Ayize Al-Qadir, left, stands by Tara Hurdle, Bethlehem Centers Child Development supervisor and teacher of 3- and 4-year-olds. It's hard for most people to remember much when they were 4 years old. But Ayize Al-Qadir probably won't forget the February night he helped get his family out of a burning house they had just began renting in North Nashville. "It was red,'' Ayize said of the fire, his eyes bulging as if he was still looking at it even several weeks later. Ayize, his 2-year-old brother Malik, an older sister Raphaela Evans-El, 20, and their father Rashid Al-Qadir, 51, were staying the night in the home at 1815 Underwood St. The house was being fixed up for the family to rent. The family had only been in the home a couple of days and had come from staying in a hotel. "The house is on fire! The house is on fire!,'' Ayize remembers yelling to his father, and then hitting him in the chest when he saw the blaze. Ayize had felt ill that night and he and Malik slept with their father in one room, with their sister in another. "Ayize woke me up and the fire was in the bedroom, running straight up the wall,'' Rashid said. "I'll never forget the heat. I could literally see the baby's (Malik) skin peel off his forehead. And the flames were crayon red.'' Rashid used a coat to cover his face and got Ayize to Raphaela, who also had awakened, and they got out of the house. Then Rashid went back to get Malik out of the home. Raphaela helped put out flames on Rashid's clothes. Rashid had some bad blisters on his feet, and Malik was burned on his forehead, but otherwise the family had no major injuries. The left side of the home was burned through the roof, and the family lost most of their belongings and clothes in the fire. Raphaela is a student at Tennessee State University and lost her books and laptop computer in the fire. The fire was ruled accidental because of items left too close to a kerosene heater, said Charles Shannon of the Nashville Fire Department. There was nothing suspicious about the fire. Ayize has been enrolled in the Bethlehem Centers of Nashville Child Development preschool program on Charlotte Avenue downtown. Rashid credited the Bethlehem Centers program with helping Ayize recognize the fire and how to make an alert. The Bethlehem Centers program has monthly fire drills and talks about fire safety with the children, said Tara Hurdle, Child Development supervisor and the 3- and 4-year-old teacher where Ayize is placed. Al-Qadir's family returned to a hotel immediately after the fire with help from the Red Cross. Most recently they have been renting in East Nashville at deadline for this story. "We're looking for a place in North Nashville when we get enough money to move,'' Al-Qadir said.

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