They had no other choice
Parents sometimes have to do terrifying things to ensure the safety of their children. When an apartment complex went up in flames, dozens of people tried desperately to get their children out of harm’s way. The stairwells and exits were blocked with fire, and the only option to escape was to go down the ladders put in place by the responding firemen.
The parents had to move quicker than that, and they dropped their children off of the balconies. Video footage has emerged showing the amazing moments from the harrowing night.
A Massive Inferno
On Jan. 3, DeKalb County Firefighters were called out to the 20-unit apartment complex Avondale Forest Apartments in Decatur, GA where a blaze was spreading quickly through units. The firemen initially went around kicking in the doors in order to free the trapped residents, but they realized that the fire was preventing many people from getting out. Families were trapped on the second and third floors, so the firemen set up ladders as rapidly as they could so that they could climb down to safety.
Even so, the fire began engulfing the apartments forcing residents out to their balconies. They were being licked by flames outside and felt that they needed to get their children away as quickly as possible.
One firefighter’s helmet camera caught the moment that a desperate father named Lance Ragland dropped his five-year old daughter into the arms of Capt. Scott Stroup, a third-generation fireman. The father felt he had no choice as the fire in his third-story apartment was billowing out of his balcony door.
Capt. Stroup caught the frightened child upside-down and ran with her over flaming debris, collapsing to his knees. Lance suffered second-degree burns, but both child and father got out relatively safe.
Only moments before the girl’s drop, her newborn brother was dropped by his desperate mother to Capt. Jackie Peckrul who was standing near the ladders when she “saw blue coming.” Capt. Peckrul explained that the plan was to ascend the ladder so that she could stand on the balcony and help the family get down the ladder. However, she only climbed about halfway up before she saw the mother drop her four-week-old boy.
In an instant, she held out her arms and caught the incoming baby. “I can’t imagine the fear that the mom was facing and was thinking about her child first. That was the only thing running through my mind… ‘Lord, let me catch this baby.’ My hands came off the ladder and I got them,” she told Inside Edition. Capt. Peckrul must have known the difficult emotions the parents were experiencing, as she is a mother of triplets herself.
Watch the Video
The girl and newborn boy, who has a twin, weren’t the only children being tossed from the building that was quickly engulfed in flames.
“We were catching babies like a football – literally. There were adults that were on the balcony that were dropping their babies right into our arms,” Capt. Eric Jackson told CNN. “We had a couple firefighters catching babies, so it was just really incredible.”
The brave firefighters were happy to help the scared parents. “There’s no better feeling in the world. Never want to see any parent lose a child,” said Capt. Peckrul.
Four adults and eight children sustained injuries in the fire, but there were no life-threatening cases. Seventy-nine people lost their homes to the blaze. SHARE this story of firefighters helping families, and send them your well-wishes in the comments!