Teen packs family into car, saves them from fire

by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:

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LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - Storms caused two devastating house fires over the weekend in Gwinnett County, leaving two families with a big mess, but little else.

Gwinnett County fire officials say lightning sparked both fires Sunday.

Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh spoke to Samuel Rodriguez, 13, on Monday. He told her he had no warning when lightning struck his Lawrenceville home on Farmwood Drive.

Rodriguez said he was watching TV with his 5-year-old nephew and 7-year-old brother when smoke began seeping in.

"It was all black," he told Kavanaugh.

Rodriguez said by the time he saw smoke, his parents' room was in up in flames and more smoke was billowing up from the basement. He said there was no working smoke detector in the home.

"So I ran, got the kids," Rodriguez said. "I actually screamed at them really badly, 'Get in the car. Get out of the house.'"

He said his father was home, but was trying to get a hose to douse the flames.

Rodriguez said he dragged the children out of the home and loaded them into an SUV, which was parked in the driveway.

Samuel grabbed the car keys and backed the SUV down the driveway and onto the street -- a risk he felt he had to take at the time.

"Get these kids safe. What happens if the house actually explodes," he said.

A few miles away, Kavanaugh found a Suwanee family hugging and smiling, despite the devastation behind them. Flames swept their home on Deville Circle, gutting their house.

"The flames were leaping up on the other side of the house," said neighbor Melody Nunamaker.

The family told Kavanaugh they had been napping, but a severe weather alert on their phone woke them up.

"We believe it can potentially save people's lives," said Lynne DeWilde with the city of Suwanee.

DeWilde said that's why the city of Suwanee launched a new emergency service for residents in 2012.

The Code Red Weather Warning is free to all Suwanee residents.