Brandon raced back inside and grabbed Melodi, but as he carried her down the stairs, the smoke stole his breath and his sight. There was a moment when he thought they might not make it out.
"I had almost fell down the stairs because the smoke got me really dizzy ... [I] couldn't see anything. I was just making guesses where things were," Brandon said.
Outside, Julia waited for her children to reappear.
"It was just unbelievable,” she said. “It seemed like forever. I just kept saying, 'Where's Brandon? Where's Melodi? Where's Brandon? Where's Melodi?’"
They got out, coughing and scared, but with each other -- and Melodi's favorite stuffed animals.
"She was pretty frightened by what she was seeing," Brandon said.
Brandon shrugs off suggestions that he's a hero.
"I didn't expect to be, like, thanked for all this," he said.
But for his parents, thank you will never be enough.
"I just think it's amazing, I'm so proud of him," Julia said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The family says it will likely be six months before they can move back inside.