A Burnaby home hearth a couple of weeks in the past might properly have led to tragedy if not for a pair of unlikely heroes.

Ever since 13-year-old Deon Johnson can keep in mind, he and his Russian great-grandmother Rimma Mussina have lived in the identical home.


She doesn’t communicate English, so he has discovered to talk Russian.

“We each love one another,” he mentioned. “We’ve a very good relationship. She’s a very nice, caring individual.”

Since contracting polio at age three, the 86-year-old Mussina has had solely restricted use of her legs.

Going to high school and work in Russia and later Turkmenistan, she acquired round with braces and crutches.

At dwelling, amongst household, nevertheless, she would typically do with out her synthetic helps, utilizing solely her higher physique to make her means round the home.

“To me, it’s regular,” mentioned her granddaughter, Victoria Aganova, Deon’s mom. “After I was little and my mother was away, she would have a gown on and he or she would put me between her legs on the gown, and, as a result of we had hardwood flooring, then she would take me along with her, drag me round along with her on the gown.”

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Her grandmother doesn’t like utilizing a wheelchair, Aganova mentioned, as a result of she finds it “belittling,” so, when a fall and a damaged leg made it inconceivable for her to proceed utilizing crutches about 5 years in the past, she most well-liked making her means round the home along with her fingers.

To prepare dinner meals, she pulls herself onto a wheelie workplace chair.

Mussina moved to Canada about 13 years in the past to reside along with her daughter’s household.

house fire
Burnaby firefighters mop up the home hearth at Deon Johnson and Rimma Mussina’s household dwelling on Nov. 21. – Cornelia Naylor

When hearth broke out at their Mark Crescent dwelling final month, Mussina’s mobility challenges put her life in jeopardy, however they didn’t cease her from saving her great-grandson.

On Nov. 21, she wakened at about 6:20 a.m.

Her daughter and son-in-law had already left for work, and Deon – her solely great-grandchild – was asleep within the room subsequent to hers.

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The home was darkish however she might see an orange glow mirrored on the wall exterior her room.

She pulled herself away from bed and into the hallway, the place she witnessed an arc of flames capturing out of a hallway closet and throughout the ceiling to the other wall, she mentioned.

She known as to Deon, whose room was shortly filling with smoke.

The fireplace was rising between them and the best way out.

Deon might really feel the warmth when he wakened.

“The entire home was very smoky,” he mentioned. “I couldn’t actually see something.”

As quickly as he was startled awake, nevertheless, the 13-year-old sprang into motion.

He known as 911 straight away after which shortly grabbed his great-grandmother by the pajamas and pulled her by means of the arc of flames towards the entrance door.

“It acquired larger as soon as I acquired her out,” he mentioned of the hearth.

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As firefighters started to reach, Deon additionally ran across the constructing and into the backdoor to open the kennel for the household’s German shepherd.

In the meantime, the hubbub of the arrival hearth vans alerted homestay college students staying in rooms downstairs.

The true seriousness of the state of affairs didn’t hit Deon till he acquired again exterior, he mentioned.

“Largely I used to be simply anxious about my grandma,” he mentioned.

A couple of moments extra, and he or she won’t have made it, they mentioned.

“He might have damaged a window and he might have gotten out, however not me,” Mussina mentioned with assist from her granddaughter, who translated from Russian to English.

Aganova couldn’t maintain again the tears as she translated her grandmother’s subsequent few phrases:

“She mentioned she would have saved him, however she didn’t wish to save herself if she didn’t save him.”




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