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Posted: January 16, 2009 2:43 p.m.

Fire puts family out on frigid day

Grandfather's quick thinking saves grandchildren

Tisa Smart Washington/

A blaze on Friday afternoon -- the coldest day this winter -- left a family without a place to stay.

David Baynes was in the shower at his mother, Dorothy Thomas' house at 4125 Carroll Street a little before 2 p.m. when his 5-year-old grandson knocked on the door.

"He said, 'I did something real bad,'" Baynes recalled. "I said, 'What did you do?'"

Baynes came out and found the bed in the children's bedroom on fire.

He rushed into the room and pulled the sheets off the bed and ran to fill a bucket of water. When he realized the house was becoming engulfed he grabbed his 6-week-old grandson, who was sleeping in the next room, and the 5-year-old and ran outside. He called 911 from a neighbor's house.

When firefighters arrived, smoke was coming out from two sides of the home and flames were visible through the bedroom window. The blaze was brought under control in about 15 minutes.

Baynes stood with neighbors outside, barefooted, as firefighters put out the flames and pulled out smoldering clothes and furniture.

"His quick thinking saved the life of his grandchildren," said Covington Fire Department Capt. Rob Christopher.

Baynes sustained burn injuries to his hand, but otherwise, everyone got out safely.

His mother Dorothy Thompson said she was gone for about 10 minutes when she heard something had happened at the house. She and her other son ran up to the house and found Baynes on the porch and the children at a neighbor's house.

"Thank God it happened in the daytime," she said. "Everybody was awake."

The entire inside of the home and most of the possession inside were destroyed.

Baynes said he did not yet have a place to stay, but he was happy no one was hurt.

The Red Cross was called to the scene to find shelter and arrangements for the family.

The fire occurred near the Armory and next to a day care center, but both places were never in any danger, said Assistant Fire Marshal Tony Smith.

The 5-year-old, who was reportedly playing with a lighter when the bed caught on fire, will be enrolled in the CFD's Fire Settter program, which is geared for children 10 and under.

"We try to catch them at a young age, when it may just be a curiosity with fire, and we try to teach them fire is tool, not a toy," said Smith.

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