Nicholas DeShane was in the living room when he noticed smoke coming through the basement vent of his family’s Gosford Boulevard home Dec. 18.
The 12-year-old immediately ran into the kitchen, where his father, Tom, was cooking lunch, to alert him of the situation.
Both ran down to the basement, where a fire was quickly engulfing the room.
Tom, who had called 911, instructed his son to find his four younger siblings and get out of the house. After helping them over a backyard wall and onto the safety of a neighbour’s property, Nicholas ran back inside the burning house to locate the family’s three dogs.
“The house was full of black smoke,” Tom said. “The house was totally destroyed. We were able to salvage some pictures but that was it.”
And being so close to Christmas, that meant all presents also went up in flames.
Two dogs, a pit bull and an Australian Sheppard-Golden Retriever mix, made it out safely but sadly, Chihuahua Simba did not.
After spending the night of the fire at a hotel paid for by family and friends, the family is now renting an apartment in the Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue area as they rebuild their lives.
The kids happened to be home the day of the fire because of the one day strike by elementary school teachers, Tom said.
Firefighters who responded to the scene credited Nicholas’ quick thinking in ensuring his father and siblings, who range in age from three to nine, made it out safely. His mother, Cheryl, was not home at the time.
A recognition ceremony was held Saturday, Jan. 12 at Fire Station 142, on Jane Street, north of Sheppard Avenue, which saw all five kids receive toys, with Nicholas getting a very special gift: an autographed hockey stick from his favourite player, Wendel Clark.
“In our job, we see too much tragedy and heartache, we are thankful that this fire did not have grave consequences thanks to a 12-year-old brave boy,” Ed Kennedy, president of Toronto Professional Fire Fighters Association, said in a release.
So does Nicholas consider himself a hero?
“I guess so,” he said. “I didn’t think I did much but I guess I did.”
A trust fund has been set up for the DeShane’s. Donations can be made at any TD Canada Trust bank, transit number 3022, account number 6094145.