‘I’m not going to let my child die’: Woman runs into burning home to save son


Latoya Martin and her husband Christie Young were asleep when the fire started after midnight, and woke to the sound of beeping, heavy billowing smoke and flames. They say it’s a ‘miracle’ all 11 family members escaped.

The family escaped the fire with just the pyjamas they were wearing — no shoes or socks. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

A woman in Kensington, P.E.I., fought through flames inside her family’s burning bungalow Wednesday night to save her youngest son.

Latoya Martin and her husband Christie Young were asleep when the fire started after midnight, and woke to the sound of beeping, heavy billowing smoke and flames. They escaped the house with two of their children and six other relatives, but then realized their 12-year-old son Josiah had been left behind.

“We started to count them and then we realized the youngest son was still in the house,” Young said. As soon as he spoke, his wife dashed in the house, with Young right behind her. 

“My first attempt, the flames were so hot I ran back out,” Martin said. “I tried to go in again and I ran back out, and I say ‘Lord, I’m not going to let my child die in here, I’ll have to die with him. So I ran through the flames.” She found him in the living room and dragged him outside.

The family escaped the fire with minor scrapes and burns and some smoke inhalation. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

“That was scary, that — I don’t wish that on anybody,” she said. “I could feel the heat on my skin, but I didn’t get burned at all.” 

The boy suffered minor burns on one ear and arm, she said. 

‘It was a miracle’

Martin’s pregnant sister Alexandria Williams, whose first child is due on Monday, had to escape through a window with her boyfriend. She landed, barefoot, in the snow outside.

Alexandria Williams and her boyfriend escaped the fire by jumping out a small window. They are expecting their first baby within days. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

“It was a miracle. A miracle. Because I couldn’t see us getting out of there alive,” Williams said. “I thought I was going to die. Honestly, the smoke alone was enough to kill you. My throat started to close up. I started to panic.” She credits her boyfriend with helping her get out. 

The family alerted neighbours to call 911 by knocking on doors. Fire services arrived quickly, and a few family members went to hospital to be checked over for minor scrapes and burns as well as smoke inhalation, but the family said everyone is OK.  

They spent the rest of the night next door, where Martin’s mother lives. 

The cause of the fire is unknown.

‘Watching over them’

Canadian Red Cross volunteers are helping the family of 11 with emergency lodging and other essentials. They had no tenants’ insurance. 

Christie Young and Latoya Martin in front of the bungalow they had been renting in Kensington. They did not have tenants’ insurance. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

The family said they are thankful for the community support of food, clothes and money. 

“It’s amazing to see that people [are] willing to help people like us,” Young said, noting the family’s passports and work permits were lost in the fire. 

The family came to P.E.I. from the Bahamas in 2019. Martin is a cook in a community care facility and attends Holland College, while Young is a skilled trades worker. 

The family had been renting the house from Kathrina Mugford, who lives just up the road. Mugford spent her teenage years in the home, and her mother continued living there until she died two years ago.

Mugford woke up last night to the sight of the house in flames and said she is still in shock. 

“I turned the corner and could see my mother standing in the front door. She always used to stand in the front door and look out, and I could always see her from my kitchen window when I was doing the dishes,” Mugford said.

“And for some reason, when I turned that corner, that’s all I could see. Even though there wasn’t a door there, I could see my mother there, and I thought, she must’ve been somehow watching over them last night.”

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