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Roanoke County fire survivor shares story of tragic night

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ROANOKE, Va. (WAVY) — Christy Montoya ran into a burning home early March 19, 2016 in an attempt to rescue her friends' children. Christy didn't make it far, as the fire in the home was too strong. Patrick and Logan McKinnon, ages 10 and 5, ended up dying in the fire.

Zak Montoya, a Norfolk firefighter who works out of Station 10 on E. Virginia Beach Boulevard, said his wife has third degree burns over 21 percent of her body. She has had painful skin graft surgery, but it is getting better every day.

"She got those burns when she ran up stairs trying to help others out of the fire," said Zak.

He added, "She's the most selfless person I've ever met."

Zak and Christy, who is a hairdresser for Christian Broadcast Network, were visiting their longtime family friends in Roanoke a week and a half ago. The Montoyas lives in southern Chesapeake.

"It was a very advanced fire," he said. "And very, very fast-moving."

Zak said Lindsay McKinnon was able to rescue his daughters, who are 7 and 5 years-old.

"She saved my children, and she is the only reason my children are alive," said Zak. "And we owe everything to that family."

Christy tried to reach Patrick and Logan. The fire pushed her down the stairs, which is when Zak said he found her.

"She sustained her injuries and was knocked down the stairs by the fire," said Zak.

Lindsay and Tom McKinnon released a statement saying they find comfort knowing their sons are together.

"The one comfort that has been helpful to Tom and I is the fact that our boys, Patrick and Logan, were together as they always have been. They went to sleep that night in the comfort and love of family and friends, and they woke up in heaven with armies of angels welcoming them, some more familiar than others."

Christy Montoya continues to recover at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. According to the YouCaring.com pages for both families, the McKinnons were both in the hospital for smoke inhalation at one point, but have since been released. Zak said the McKinnons have expressed they will not leave Winston-Salem until Christy is released from the hospital.

Zak said his family has felt nothing but support from various communities. He said several representatives from Station 10, as well as Norfolk Fire-Rescue Chief Jeffrey Wise, have visited him and his family in Winston-Salem. With the help of his fire captain, local firefighters in Winston-Salem and the Piedmont Triad have checked on his family, providing meals and even a cell phone.

Zak said the future for his family is unclear. He said it is too soon to look ahead at when he will return to work as a firefighter, and when and if she will be able to work again. At this point, it's uncertain if her injuries will affect her dexterity.

"Even if we lose her income and it's a total loss, we're still thankful that we're alive and we're together and we're surrounded by so many great people," said Zak. "It's just more than we could ever hope for."

There are several ways you can help both the Montoyas and the McKinnons.

Friends have set up verified accounts through YouCaring.com. You can help the Montoyas with Christy's medical expenses and other needs at this link. You can help the McKinnons, who lost their children and their entire house, by going to this link.

According to Zak, you can also go to any Wells Fargo and make a donation for the McKinnons through the "McKinnon Family Donation Fund."

For the Montoyas, you can go to any SunTrust and make a donation through the "Montoya Family Donation Fund."