KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The 30-year veteran fire captain who rescued a 3-year-old boy from an apartment fire on Thursday said he was just doing his job.
When firefighters arrived at the Ruskin Place Apartments on Blue Ridge Blvd. on Thursday, they saw heavy smoke and flames. Captain Walter Flathers and four other firefighters did what they have done countless times. They entered the burning building in search of people.
"I had to get on my hands and knees and crawl to find this baby," Flathers said. He heard the child gasping, felt around and located him.
"At that time, we got him and got him outside as quickly as possible," he said.
But the boy was in critical condition. Witnesses said the child was unresponsive as Flathers carried him out of the building. Emergency crews rushed him to the hospital.
"It’s by the grace of God that we find somebody in those conditions and get them out alive," said Floyd Peoples, Kansas City Missouri Fire Department spokesman.
Later, when firefighters learned the boy was up, "playing with toys" at the hospital, they were overjoyed. Flathers reportedly 'teared up.'
"It's ecstatic," he said. "Anytime you can help an individual, it's very rewarding, but that's what we do ... it's a team effort."
That team consisted of four other firefighters: Schloegel, Malloy, Gravino and Baucher, led by their captain, Flathers.
"I'm just proud to be a firefighter and work with all these great people," he said.
Flathers said firefighters want everyone to have working smoke detectors. Those interested can contact their local fire department for assistance.