Christiansburg 13-year-old escapes fire, returns to save family birds

CHRISTIANSBURG (WSLS 10) – Christiansburg firefighters are still looking into what caused a fire on Loret Lane Thursday that left a family of three without a home.

The family who lost their home in the fire have only some clothes, their surviving pets and each other left. Debra Long said she was thankful her grandson and husband were there when it started. 

Her grandson, Daniel Price, and her husband Billy tried to throw water on the fire, but had no idea where it was coming from. 

“He come running out of the bathroom and said smoke was coming out of everywhere,” Long explained.
It was time to get out.

“He got my wheelchair and, by then, the house was covered in smoke,” Long remembered.

Despite the danger, 13-year-old Daniel ran back inside, trying to save the family’s beloved birds.

“I couldn’t see. I could barely breathe or see. I was trying to remember where they’re at and I remembered….. and I tried to get them out,” he said.

Daniel managed to save seven birds before the smoke was too heavy to go back inside.

“We had cockatoos, African grays, macaws. We had a lot of birds,” Long said as she fought back tears.

Long said 27 birds were lost. Some were rescues she’s cared for for years. She said she’s worried the ones who survived may not pull through. She said she and the birds were up all night after the fire, unable to sleep. 

“He’s lost all his feathers from being so stressed. He just pulled everything out. I don’t even know if these ones we pulled out are going to survive,” Long said.

The family of three was set up in a hotel provided by the Red Cross for three days after fire destroyed their home and almost everything inside, but Long said she’s afraid to leave that room. She doesn’t want to leave her remaining birds behind.

“I don’t care about the trailer. It’s just the birds. I would give anything to get my birds back,” she said. “Money or nothing means anything without my babies.”

A fund has been set up in Debra Long’s name at Carter Bank & Trust (account number 024415207806) for anyone wishing to help with a donation.