Humber Ave. fire victim speaks on grief, gratitude

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — When Tempest Thomas was roused from sleep by flames early in the morning Feb. 18, she thought she was still dreaming — until she stood up and couldn’t breathe.

“I screamed, and I started shaking my husband, Meech, and I said ‘bae, our house is on fire,” Thomas said. “The kids are screaming. They’re trapped in the back.”

Then she saw her husband Demetrius Johnson spring to action, all while she was fighting to breathe and find a way out of the inferno.

“The walls were so hot, I kept trying to feel them to get to the front door,” she said. “I couldn’t find it. The next thing I know, I was standing there, and Meech was running down the hall with Treasure. Her whole body was on fire.”

Treasure continues her recovery at Shriner’s Hospital in Cincinnati, every day is another step toward survival.

“When you see them make it to the hospital, in critical condition, not breathing, not talking, and then a week later, and you can see your daughter clearly looking at you and blowing kisses to you and making mouth motions to you, it’s the best feeling any mother can have,” Thomas said. t’s the best feeling. It’s like giving birth to a newborn again.”

Last week, Demetrius was laid to rest. Tempest couldn’t leave her daughter’s side.

“I don’t even think I had time to honestly grieve yet,” she said. “It’s something I have to prove to Meech. He died for me and my kids to be happy. He died for us to have a happy and nice life.”

While the struggle for Tempest has been crushing at times, she has found time to be thankful and consider the road ahead.

“I didn’t have much before this fire,” she said. “Now, it took my husband’s life and almost my kids, and now it seems like I got everything that I ever needed due to the fire.

“It’s nothing I couldn’t or wouldn’t give back from every donation to everything that I was given to have Meech and my daughter here,” she said. “My life, it’s going to be hard. But I’m going to get through it.”

It’s been a barrage of gifts, well wishes and support for the family of Johnson, leaving his new wife to hold up the family through grief and recovery.

Most of her body badly burned, Treasure Brighon has, 8, a long road ahead — with progress measured one moment at a time.

“I said, ‘Treasure, if you love mommy, can you shake your head,’ and she shook her head. I said, ‘Treasure, I love you very much,’ and she blew me a kiss and that broke me down because I was shocked to see her so stable in the condition that she was in.”

Tempest says the support has been overwhelming, but necessary. But she’d trade it all for a return to normalcy.

“Thank you Buffalo, NY, my hometown, my city,” she said. “Thanks for everything that you have donated and done for me, it means more to me than anything.”

Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield said Monday the investigation into the cause of the fire continues. It’s a difficult investigation, he said, because the home was so badly burned, and key witnesses are either badly injured, or are deceased. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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