CHICAGO — The quick thinking of a child saved the lives of everyone in a house fire, including his two sisters and three cousins.
5-year-old Jayden Espinoza was the only one awake in his aunt’s apartment in the 5000 block of South Marshfield Avenue. It was 3 a.m. Saturday when the fire started and as it raged, Jayden went into action.
"I yelled to my auntie there was fire," Jayden Espinoza said. "I said fire was coming in the kitchen."
Jayden’s parents Tracey and Kashmir were at their home on the Northwest Side and rushed to the Back of the Yards neighborhood to find their children safe. That’s when they were told about Jayden’s heroic actions.
Jayden went through fire drills at school and watched video games about exit plans. He knew enough to tell his older sister to stop, drop and roll.
"My daughter got up to stand up and he’s like 'no, you have to crouch and move,'" Tracey Espinoza said.
The fire gutted the house and displaced 13 people, including six children. It started in the back, most likely near the garage. The flames spread quickly damaging the porches on either side. Without Jayden, the outcome could have been much different.
"I was really amazed," Tracey Espinoza said. "I was thankful because I didn’t expect that of him, to be a hero, to save everyone’s life. He said 'I saved everyone.'"
The Chicago Fire Department said the fire was started with a smoking product, like a cigarette. Tracey Espinoza was told a mattress outside was set on fire. CFD isn’t saying the fire was purposely set.