Red Cross

DC Woman Recalls Dangerous Escape From Fire With Grandchildren

A grandmother is sad her home was destroyed by fire but grateful her grandsons are OK.

"I'm sad," Lynnora Johnson said. "I have a plethora of emotions."

She and the boys — 18-month-old Jacob and 6-year-old Maxston — were in their third floor apartment in the 4400 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southwest D.C. Monday night when they smelled smoke.

"I went to the door and when I opened the door, I was met by a plume of black smoke," Johnson said.

So she went to the window.

"No one was out there," she said. "I’m yelling, screaming."

Then she saw a neighbor, Derrick Ferguson, with his arms out, and she released Jacob. Ferguson caught him.

"It was like, OK we got that done. OK, here comes the next one," Johnson said.

She then dropped Maxston, but he hit his head on a satellite dish attached to the building.

Ferguson was unable to catch him, and he landed on the hard pavement.

Maxston miraculously survived but was taken to the hospital in serious condition.

Johnson was rescued via a ladder.

Now Maxston is back with his grandmother and little brother, but the three of them and 13 others are displaced from the apartment building.

"I’m just grateful to be alive and I have my grandkids," Johnson said. "It could have been so much worse."

The Red Cross has put them up a hotel for two weeks, but they don't know what will come next.

Councilman Trayvon White said he is reaching out to the property manager to see what can be done to help them find a new place to live.

The fire started in the apartment below Johnson's, which didn't have working smoke detectors, firefighters said. The cause is undetermined.

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