Breckenridge Texan

Breckenridge boy’s quick action saves family, most of home from fire

Breckenridge boy’s quick action saves family, most of home from fire
March 07
11:01 2021

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word hero as “one who shows great courage,” but for one Breckenridge family, the definition of hero is more specific: Rhyder Patterson.

At about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, March 4, 9-year-old Rhyder was awake in his room and noticed the smell of smoke. At first, he thought that his mom and step-dad, Desaray and Anthony Briseno, were cooking something outside the family home about five miles south of Breckenridge, like they did during the recent winter storm.

But, the smell kept getting stronger, so Rhyder pulled back the curtains and looked out the window. Seeing flames on the front porch, he ran down the hall, yelling “Mama, the house is on fire!”

As the family awakened and moved to safety, Rhyder shut the bedroom doors. “That saved not only our lives but the rest of the house, too,” Desaray said.

After calling 9-1-1, Anthony and Rhyder started pouring buckets of water on the fire. Anthony said that when he first opened the front door, the porch was engulfed in flames, and he initially thought the fire was contained there. But, then he saw flames inside 12-year-old Mylie Patterson’s room and knew it had spread to the interior of the home.

Desaray said that later the firefighters told the family that the temperature in Mylie’s room was over 200 degrees when they got there.

“He did everything right that you’re supposed to do, everything that we try to drill in everybody’s heads,” Breckenridge Fire Chief Calvin Chaney said about Rhyder. “This kid got it right. He saved that family’s life and saved them from losing their whole home because the fire burned from outside the house and went into one of the bedrooms and totaled that bedroom.”

As they waited on the Breckenridge Fire Department to arrive, Anthony and Rhyder continued to fight the fire with buckets of water and help from their neighbors and Josh Patterson, Rhyder and Mylie’s dad, who rushed over to help.

On Saturday afternoon, the house still had a lingering smoky smell and a scorched spot on the front porch. But, inside the house, the only evidence of the fire was confined to Miley’s room and soot on the ceilings around the air conditioning vents, where the smoke had traveled through the duct work. The door that Rhyder shut is a typical hollow wooden interior door, but having it shut contained the fire to the one room.

The contrasts are dramatic. Inside the room, everything from the ceiling to the carpet is scorched black. Shattered glass and burned books, shoes and other items indicate the intensity of the fire. But, outside Mylie’s room, the rest of the house looks normal with white walls showing no evidence of the blaze. If not for the acrid smell of smoke, you might not realize the dramatic events that had taken place just a couple of days earlier.

Desaray said that since the coronavirus pandemic, the kids have been home-schooled and don’t necessarily have a strict bedtime, which is why Rhyder was still awake that late. “Thankfully, he was up late,” she said. Although the fire was closer to Mylie’s room, she was asleep. Additionally, after being sick in November, she still has a diminished sense of smell.

Friends and family are helping to replace some of Mylie’s clothing and other items, Desaray said. The family will meet with their insurance company on Monday to determine the extent of the damage.

When asked what advice he would give to other kids who notice a fire, Rhyder said, “Go wake up your parents.” And, if the kids are at home alone, he said, “Run outside!”

“From the Fire Department’s perspective this 9-year-old boy did everything to make this a positive outcome,” Chaney wrote in an email. “He woke the adults up and told them house was on fire; he returned to siblings’ rooms and woke them up and moved them to other end of house; he shut all the bedroom doors behind them and kept that fire contained to one bedroom and not the whole house. This boy saved his family and saved his home from sure disaster.”

Standing in the living room Saturday afternoon, the family recounted their story and looked around in continued amazement that they were all OK. “I tell him every day that he’s my hero,” Anthony said. “His parents are proud of him; I’m proud of him. He’s a hero.”

Rhyder Patterson stands on his family’s front porch that was on fire early Thursday morning. He noticed the fire and awakened the family, who were able to get to safety. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: When Rhyder Patterson closed the door to his sister Mylie’s room, pictured, the fire that spread from outside the house to the inside was contained in her room. Although Mylie’s room was destroyed, most of the house was spared damage from the flames. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Tony Pilkington contributed to this story.


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