RICHMOND, Va. -- An 11-month-old girl is out of the hospital and expected to be alright after being rescued by a group of Richmond firefighters Saturday afternoon.
“We're talking literally seconds here from tragedy to triumph,” said Capt. William M. Martin with the Richmond Fire Department.
Engine Company 11 was the first on the scene at Fairfield Court Saturday afternoon.
Firefighters Parker Ramsey, Korey Pettiford, Carlos Samuels, and Marcus McGee arrived to find heavy smoke and flames shooting from the apartment building at the 2500 block of Phaup Street, and immediately went into rescue mode after hearing that an infant was still upstairs.
“You hear the cry, but you just couldn’t make out where it was coming from because you were surrounded by flames,” said Samuels. “I started getting frustrated, I was burning, I was hot… I was getting frustrated and I had to get it together quick.”
Samuels and Parker could feel themselves on fire after a flashover in the bedroom next to the baby.
“At one point, me and Carlos both had to step back into the hallway we had to check ourselves and make sure everything was there,” said Parker.
“The gases accumulate. Once everything in the room reaches the ignition temperature, it simultaneously combusts. That's why we call it a flash,” Battalion Chief of Battalion 4 Jeff Currie said.
Currie explained that flashovers are rare and extremely dangerous.
“About 1150 degrees is a typical flashover temperature,” he said. “It happens instantly and if you're inside in that ignition temperature, you're going to burn."
The firefighters knew they were in trouble and needed to find the baby quickly.
“I simply just opened the door took two steps bumped into a bed and the only thing I could really see was my fingertips, said Samuels. “I was patting the bed; I could hear the cry and hear the gasp.”
Samuels said that’s when he decided to lay his head on the bed.
“When I laid my head on the bed she was looking at me with soot stains, snot under her nose, and I just scooped her up,” he said. “She was helpless she was lying on her stomach there was nothing she could do.”
Samuels walked through flames to save her.
“When we were coming up the stairs, the baby had her eyes open and wasn’t crying anymore,” said McGee. “Carlos was the comforter at that time. That was like a thank you.”
Samuels said training and being prepared for the job saved the infant’s life.
“Every second counted, in her case it did,” he said.
“They say you risk a lot to save a lot. So that’s what we do,” said McGee. “That baby is going to be on my mind for Christmas, because that baby gets to have another Christmas. She gets to have her first and we were able to play a role in that and that’s the rewarding part.”
Parker and Samuels suffered minor burns and were treated at the scene Saturday, but officials said someone without their gear could not have survived.
“That’s devastating,” Currie said.
“It's a whole company, but three of them went inside and they did an incredible job, absolutely incredible. I’ve been doing this for 35 years and I’m impressed,” Martin said.
“Our department is proud, and anytime we can make an impact and make a difference, then it makes us happy,” Currie said.
The fire displaced more than a dozen people. The cause remains under investigation.