This is quite a story. Via helmetcam video, we get to see the moment a desperate father, Lance Ragland, who is on a ladder three stories up during a raging apartment fire in Georgia, toss a child into the arms of Capt. Scott Stroup, a firefighter from the DeKalb County Fire Department. That is one impressive catch. The fire occurred on Jan. 3rd just before dawn at the Avondale Forest Apartments. Approximately 20 units were involved in the tragedy. They were a complete loss. 12 people were injured in the roaring blaze. Eight of those were children. My heart was in my throat as the child was thrown and successfully caught while they were escaping the inferno.
“We were catching babies like a football — literally,” Capt. Eric Jackson said, CBS News reported. “There were adults that were on the balcony that were dropping their babies right into our arms. We had a couple firefighters catching babies, so it was just really incredible.” Made even more so because their lives were saved. Talk about heroic. It was an incredible sight.
Capt. Jackie Peckrul, a mother of triplets, caught one of those sweet babies. She could be called a hero and “supermom,” but she just thinks of herself as another firefighter. Peckrul got a ladder to rescue the family’s eight children, WAGA-TV reported, but when she looked up she saw a baby wrapped in a blanket who was falling. “That was the only thing running through my mind… ‘Lord, let me catch this baby,’” Peckrul told WAGA. “My hands came off the ladder, and I got ’em,” she added. “I was thinking oh my gosh don’t drop it. Ha, ha,” said Peckrul. “It was hot, you could feel it from the ground and they don’t have the gear on so they were just ready for us to come get them,” said Peckrul. Thank goodness they did.
But Peckrul doesn’t want to be lauded for her bravery. “I don’t really feel like a hero. I don’t think any of us do. It’s our job and we are so fortunate to work for DeKalb County who prides training and equipment and we have a brotherhood here and we work really well together,” said Peckrul. “I couldn’t be anything else and it makes me a better mom and being a mom probably makes me a better firefighter.” That’s a heck of a mom and a firefighter.
Nevertheless, all of them are heroes in more ways than one. “There’s no better feeling in the world,” Peckrul said, about saving the lives of people and especially children. “Never want to see any parent lose a child,” she said. “I started going up the ladder and my plan was to actually get up on the balcony with them so that I could help them get on the ladder and have somebody else assist them down, but I got about half way up there and here comes a baby down to my arms,” said Peckrul. She’s been a firefighter for more than 15 years and evidently a damn good one at that.
Yet another reason to be incredibly thankful for first responders like this. I can’t imagine the terror of these poor people trying to escape the fire. All got out okay. The ones that were injured mostly suffered from smoke inhalation, but there were a few burns. It could have been much, much worse. One reporter said, “DeKalb firefighters were catching babies (young as 1 month old) as parents dropped from balconies during apt fire. Also rescued adults, including one in wheelchair. All minor injuries to dozen taken to hospital.”
The footage has gone viral and it’s easy to see why. “It was literally all-hands-on-deck,” DCFD Captain Jackson said. “Before we had even put a hose line on the fire, we had firefighters that were bringing adults out, we had a firefighter that was catching babies, one after another.” Now the community is rallying together and taking donations for these families to help them get back on their feet. I imagine most of them lost everything in the fire, but at least they survived. It was a miracle that everyone got out of there alive. That was a monstrous fire. But the people were saved and no firefighters were hurt. That’s a good day in my book.
Extraordinary moment as a firefighter catches a young child thrown from the third-story balcony of a burning building. Twelve people in all were saved from the fire. https://t.co/H15qjWYwZI pic.twitter.com/cwtqrJuTVp
— ABC News (@ABC) January 15, 2018
— 11Alive News (@11AliveNews) January 3, 2018
DeKalb firefighters were catching babies (young as 1 month old) as parents dropped from balconies during apt fire. Also rescued adults, including one in wheelchair. All minor injuries to dozen taken to hospital pic.twitter.com/9tR8etl0g1
— Steve Gehlbach (@SteveGWSB) January 3, 2018