Savion Robinson, a 14-year-old Belleville High School student, was the only one who didn’t make it out alive from Sunday’s devastating house fire in Van Buren Township.
But family members and firefighters said he was heroic until his last breath, even possibly helping one firefighter rescue a toddler.
The charred shell of the home on Denton Road is a grim picture of just how hot the flames were when Van Buren Township firefighters arrived after getting the call just after 4:00 a.m.
"It was a pretty hostile fire, no doubt about that. Very hot," Fire Chief Dan Besson said.
Family members told them two people were still trapped inside, including an 18-month-old girl police officers could hear crying, several feet from the front door.
Besson said his men had mere seconds to act. Lt. John Henderson entered the smoke-filled house and, feeling around blindly, he found the toddler and crawled out with her.
Had he waited seconds longer, Besson said, she might not have come out alive.
"Firefighters will tell you that’s the nature of the job, that’s what they’re trained to do, but the members of the department recognize that it was heroic," Besson said.
But Lt. Henderson, a 14-year veteran of the department, isn't the only hero. Fire officials believe they were able to get to the toddler so quickly because her uncle, 14-year-old Savion Robinson, tried to get her as close to the door as possible.
In the end, the Belleville High School student was the only one firefighters couldn't rescue.
Robinson's older sister, Marie Santangelo, said before firefighters got there, her brother helped get his nine-year-old sister out of the house to get help from neighbors, and then went back in to get the others.
She said she can't even process the fact her brother didn't make it.
"He just went to homecoming. Dressed up, the whole nine yards. That was his first, like, real date," Santangelo said.
Investigators still have a lot of debris to sift through before determining the exact cause and origin of the fire.