An FFAA gathering in Parker turned into a display of heroism for some Beresford High School students. The group of six students had just competed in a leadership contest Monday night when they happened upon an apartment building on fire. These young first-responders joined others by going door-to-door to alert the residents.
Witnesses had already called 911 by the time the Beresford FFA’ers came across the fire at Parkridge Apartments, located just a block from the fire hall. They helped other people from Parker who were at the scene making sure everyone was safe.
The alarming site of flames shooting out of this apartment in Parker detoured the students food run to a convenience store.
“My adrenaline was going and I was like I just gotta do what I can,” Beresford senior Rachel Watkins said.
The students joined in the effort to rap on windows and bang on doors to make sure everyone inside the apartment building was getting out.
“There was a knock on the door and it sounded like a sheriff serving a warrant, that loud, authoritative knock,” apartment resident Rick Hull said.
Rick Hull was cooking dinner when the fire broke out on the opposite end of the building.
“These two girls opened the door, come walking right in and I’m standing with my hands full of biscuit dough and they started hollering at me: there’s a fire! There’s a fire! There’s a fire,” Hull said.
Hull got out safely. But some of his neighbors needed convincing there actually was a fire in their building.
“Like the first guy I ran up to, I started banging on his window and he didn’t believe me that the building was on fire, like he thought it was a joke. And then she came up, she had more of a scared look on her face, I just tried to keep as calm as possible,” Beresford senior Riley Johnson said.
Hull is convinced the students’ quick action saved lives.
“I was just astonished at their bravery. They put their safety on the line for people they’ve never even met,” Hull said.
Beresford is home to the Watchdogs, a fitting mascot for students who are watching out for their neighbors, even total strangers.
“This community has no idea who I am, as much as I can help them, I will,” Watkins said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The damage is limited to the east end of the building. People who live in the west end, including Hull, have been allowed to return to their units.
Beresford High School released a statement Wednesday calling the students “everyday heroes.” The school also says the students’ actions fit into the FFA creed of influencing their community.