A Delaware mom is crediting her 13-year-old son with saving her life after a devastating house fire engulfed their home — and it’s all because he defied her orders to turn off Netflix before bedtime.
As she was heading to bed on New Year’s Day, Angela Marie Borden reminded her son, Damir Carter, of the family’s rules: no television after 10 p.m. But with his mother sound asleep, Damir instead stayed up way past his bedtime to watch The Flash on Netflix until around 1 a.m., when he noticed strange noises and smoke coming from inside the family’s mobile home in New Castle County.
“Damir said that when he stepped out and came down the hall, he saw more smoke,” Borden, 32, tells PEOPLE. “He called out for his dad, but he was at work. Then he started calling for me and yelled out that there was smoke, and I ran out and saw our bearded dragon tank was engulfed in flames.”
She immediately thought of the family’s cat and five dogs, but Damir said he couldn’t find any of them.
With no time to waste, Borden ran back to her room to grab their smallest dog, Twix, who was asleep with her on the bed before the fire broke out.
“I told Damir to get out, go outside, run around the house and call the dogs,” Borden recalls. “I hoped we could pull them from the windows.”
Borden tried to save some possessions by throwing them from the windows, but when she ran outside to place Twix in the car, the home was fully overwhelmed by the flames.
Borden’s husband, Richard Lewis, a tow truck operator, returned home just before firefighters arrived. She later wrote on Facebook that it’s difficult to consider that her husband could have come home that night only to discover she and Damir hadn’t lived.
The home was completely destroyed, and the family’s cat, four dogs, and three bearded dragons all perished. Firefighters said a breaker box was pulling too much outside power, which caused a spark in an outlet, Borden says.
“I contribute that fact that we made it out of the home to my son acting so quickly,” she adds. “He called 911, got me awake and everything — he really used his head.”
This is the second time in five years that the family’s home has burned down. In 2014, they lost their home when a refrigerator malfunctioned and caught fire in the middle of the night. The family lost two dogs in that fire as well.
“We just started to rebuild memories and the longer things — not the quick things — like money and normalcy, everyday life,” she says. “Things were just returning to normal again.”
The family is now staying in a hotel, and neighbors have stepped up to help raise money for them in their time of need. A GoFundMe for the family has currently raised $965, while a Facebook donation page has raised $745.
“I’m just super grateful, I mean, that’s an outstanding kid, I don’t know many kids who can get themselves up and address the issue and find a solution. He was very heroic in a way, he fought for everything he loved that night — his dogs, his mom, everything,” Borden says. “He isn’t in trouble for staying up this time!”