By Marlene Stamper, Public Affairs Volunteer
Bryan Arellanos is a soft-spoken 16-year-old who attends Tokay High School in Lodi, CA. He loves race cars, video games, and above all else, Bryan Arellanos, loves his family. He bravely demonstrated his love on December 31, 2015. On that day, Bryan suffered second degree burns over much of his body while getting his brother and sister to safety as their home went up in flames.
Baryan and his brother Christopher, 14, who Bryan describes as a “special ed child” were up early. They were playing video games in the living room of their home while Bryan’s sister, nine-year-old Betsey, was fast asleep in her bedroom. Their mother was at work. This was a normal day for the family, until the thing that we never expect, happened: a home fire.
Around 7:30 AM, Bryan took a break from the video games and left the living room for a few minutes, leaving his brother on his own. When Bryan returned, the family Christmas tree was engulfed in flames. Bryan ran to get a bucket of water in an attempt to douse out the fire, but it was too late. By the time he returned with the water, Bryan says, “fire was everywhere.” Christopher had run to find safety in their mother’s bedroom.
Bryan knew he had to get his brother and sister out immediately. The flames were traveling fast. And Betsey was still sound asleep in her room, unaware of what was happening. Bryan ran to her room , woke her up, and pushed her out the bedroom window. She was scared and confused and started to cry. Bryan told her not to cry. It would be okay. Then he went to find Christopher.
By now, Bryan’s arms were burning. Bryan said, “The fire was everywhere, on the couch, the ceiling, the floor, and a lot of smoke. I couldn’t see. My eyes were burning. I was coughing so bad…” But, Bryan pressed on. He found Christopher still in their mother’s room. He was safe. Bryan had to get him out. They couldn’t make it through the fire in the living room. So Bryan knocked out the bedroom window screen and pushed his brother through. At this point, there was nothing more Bryan could do. Betsey and Christopher were safe and unharmed. But, Bryan was not so lucky.
Bryan ’s arms, back, and neck were burned. He remembers the medics giving him medication for the pain and getting help at the hospital. He says the doctors gave him something to put him to sleep so they could take care of his burns. When he woke up, his mom and dad were near his bed. They were crying. But Baryan didn’t want them to be sad. He said he doesn’t like to see his family cry. Baryan grabbed his dad’s hand and said, “Don’t cry, I’ll be okay.”
Bryan misses Betsey and Christopher. And they miss him. So recently, it was a very special day when they visited him in the hospital. They talked and teased and hugged and kissed. Bryan ’s parents visit him often. He asked his mom to bring him a Bible which he reads from everyday. Bryan says he prays to get better and every day he is a little better. And he says his mom kisses him on the head every night because that always helps him feel better.
Bryan ’s family is grateful that he was able to save Betsey and Christopher. And, Bryan is happy that his brother and sister are safe because as he says, “they still have a long life to live.” Bryan isn’t sure when he will leave the hospital, but he looks forward to going back to school, seeing his friends, and most of all, being with his family.
Baryan’s family’s home, and almost everything in it, was totally destroyed by the fire. The American Red Cross is providing the family’s immediate emergency needs, such as lodging, food, and clothing to help them through this very difficult time.