Firefighter who saved children reunites with family: ‘You couldn’t see anything’

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. --  Firefighter Mitch Riley had never rescued anyone from a burning home before, but as he saw the flames shooting out of a home early Tuesday knew he had to act.

Mitch Riley

Mitch Riley

"I feel like it definitely escalates the situation when children are involved," Riley told WTKR reporter Brendan Ponton on Friday.

Riley and the crew of Engine 7 got a call about a fire on Spartan Street in the County View Mobile Home Park early Tuesday.

When he got there, he learned a neighbor had rescued one child, but two more were trapped inside the home. Riley used a ladder to break a window and then got into the home.

Family displaced

Family displaced

"It was hot. It was dark. You couldn't see anything," he remembers.

At first, he found two-year old Aurora unconscious and got her out, but he knew he also had to find five-year old Jackson.

"Something just told me that they have to be close together," he said.

The reunion

The reunion

Moments later, he found Jackson as the room started to change colors. "I reached my arms out as far as I could and I could see flames coming out of my peripheral."

Then, Riley jumped out, but says he wasn't thinking about whether he would make it. "I was so concerned about the kids that I didn't think about that."

The family says the kids are expected to be okay. They're being treated at a burn center in Boston.

On Friday, the family met Riley to thank him for all he did, but Riley doesn't call himself a hero - just a firefighter.

"We don't want to do it, but if we have to do it, we want to be there," he said.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.