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Aug 26, 2023

by: Jayonna Scurry

Posted: Aug 24, 2023 / 05:28 AM EDT

Updated: Aug 24, 2023 / 05:28 AM EDT

BLUFF CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – All the residents at a Bluff City apartment are safe after four-year-old Rico Briggs woke up early Sunday morning to tell his mom there was a fire.

On Saturday night, David and Moriah Briggs along with their sons Rico and River were watching movies. Rico fell asleep on the couch, and his parents decided not to bother him. Which is a decision that might’ve saved their lives. Rico awoke early Sunday morning seeing smoke.

Rico’s father, David Briggs, had already left for work around 2:00 a.m.

“It was just me and my younger son in the bed, and he [Rico] was on the couch and then about like 4:00 in the morning, he had woke me up in panic and like jumped on me and said, ‘Mommy, the house is on fire,'” Moriah Briggs said. “So, when I opened my eyes, all I could see was smoke.”

Moriah gathered her sons and went to check for a safe exit. That’s when she saw the fire coming from underneath Rico’s bedroom door.

“I opened it really quick and everything in his room was up in flames,” Moriah said. “So, we just quickly exited the building and we were banging on everybody’s doors and he [Rico] was helping me let everybody else know that we needed to get out.”

Everyone in the entire apartment building was able to get out safely, but only the Briggs’ apartment is now unlivable. They lost almost all of their possessions.

“We were able to salvage our marriage certificate, but other than that, nothing,” Moriah said.

Photos from inside apartment courtesy of David Briggs

The Bluff City Volunteer Fire Department confirmed that the fire started from a baseboard heater in Rico’s room.

“It was an electrical fire,” Moriah said. “There’s a baseboard heater in his room and it’s always shut off because it kind of always had like a kind of a smell to it. So, it was never on. But I guess even when it’s off, it’s still connected to the breaker box. I guess it just turned on somehow.”

The fire alarms did not go off that night, but Rico’s parents had already taught him what to do in case of an emergency.

“We were able to just take some one-on-one time with him to be able to share with him what to do and the type of emergency,” Moriah said.

David and Moriah are grateful for Rico’s courage.

“I’m just so thankful that he wasn’t so in fear, that he didn’t know what to do other than to come and let us know,” Moriah said.

Rico said the firefighters called him a superhero. He said that makes him feel brave and strong.

“We were just lucky enough to have a superhero in our home that night,” David said.

David stresses the importance of safety in homes.

“Knowing all of your safety equipment in the home, whether it be fire alarms, windows, exits, please make sure that they are all functional and they are all up to date,” David said.

A GoFundMe has been created to help the Briggs family. David said people can donate items such as clothes, toiletries and other essential items as well. To find out where to donate, click the contact button on the GoFundMe page.

“They [Rico and River] lost the most out of all of us, especially as much as a hero as Rico is, he knows and remembers that he lost some physical possessions,” David said. “He lost memories as well as his toys and things like that.”

The Briggs family is currently staying at Moriah’s mother’s home while they search for a new residence.

“It is not just about money that will get us through every day, rebuilding our lives is our main concern,” David said. “Because you don’t really realize how important an outfit is when you’re not able to have one for the day, or how important toothbrush, toothpaste, bath soap things like that really are until you’re without that.”

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