When an 89-year-old woman’s house caught on fire in Cheraw, South Carolina, two teenage boys immediately came to her rescue.
Logan Campbell, 17, and his stepbrother, Jimmie Brown, 16, were in their backyard on June 21 when they heard a transformer blow and noticed flames rising from the home of their elderly neighbor, Pearl Mabry.
The teens ran next door screaming for “Ms. Pearl,” a grandmother figure to the boys. They kicked down the front door, ran into the burning house and brought the woman to safety.
Mabry, who suffers from vascular dementia, was asleep in her bed at the time, unaware of the deadly flames outside her bedroom. The teens carried the woman on their shoulders and quickly ran outside.
“She might not have made it out if we hadn’t gotten there in time,” Brown tells PEOPLE. “She was like a grandmother to us growing up, always feeding us ice cream and fried chicken. We wanted to take care of her and make sure she was okay.”
Marvin Murray, Cheraw’s fire chief, believes the fire started in a utility room, causing something to pop, and then spread throughout the house.
“These kids cared enough about another human being to risk going into a burning house,” Murray tells PEOPLE. “They were fearless. It took us a few minutes to get to the scene, and by that time Ms. Pearl could have inhaled a lot of smoke. Those boys deserve a lot of credit.”
Mabry, described as Cheraw’s “neighborhood momma,” is known for her infectious smile and love of treating kids to ice cream.
“I would do anything at all for Ms. Pearl,” Campbell tells PEOPLE. “She’s been so great to everybody her entire life. We grew up with her, she’s the neighborhood babysitter.”
Melanie Brock, Pearl’s daughter, says that while the details of the fire confuse her mother due to her dementia, she definitely remembers the two boys saving her life.
“She calls them her ‘boys,’ ” Brock, 45, tells PEOPLE. “They were her guardian angels. What they’ve done and the efforts they have put forth, putting someone else before themselves, you don’t see a whole lot of that anymore. They are true heroes and I am so grateful.”
Mabry’s house has been released from fire investigation, and while she waits for her insurance to finalize, she is staying with Brock and her family.
As for the heroic boys, they were honored at a town council meeting in July by Cheraw Mayor Andy Ingram and Murray.
The experience has had a profound impact on the young boys’ lives.
“Jimmie had dropped out of high school last year as a sophomore, but after all of this happened he decided to go back to school in the fall to finish high school,” his mother, Joann Campbell, 36, tells PEOPLE. “His dream now is to join the Air Force post-graduation. This all came about after he saved Ms. Pearl. He realized he found his calling, and that is to help others.”