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Riviera Beach firefighter recalls rescuing newborn from fire

Posted at 6:15 PM, Aug 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-14 18:33:00-04

First responders are a special breed. They run toward danger, risking their lives to save others.

Friday night, Riviera Beach firefighters got that call.

An apartment was up in flames with three children trapped inside.

“We got there we noticed a large column of smoke and a heavy wall of fire," Battalion Chief Ken Brack recalled.
Thanks to neighbors, two kids got out. But it was up to the firefighters to save a newborn baby.

Firefighter Brandon Keatts made his way through the hot zone.

“When the door came up and I saw the infant, a lot of thoughts went through my head at once," he said.

Keatts has been with the Riviera Beach Fire Department for three years now but he’d never dealt with such a life and death situation.

"This was a once-in-your-career call,” he said. “This is something I’ll remember from now until I’m telling the grandkids when I’m retired.”

He got the baby out of the fire and smoke – just in time.

“As I reached down, the arms and legs started moving. The baby cried briefly as I picked it up."

While the whole scene played out on thermal cameras, Keatts’ fellow firefighters formed a human chain so they could pass the baby down to safety.

The extraordinary teamwork is something battalion Chief Brack has embedded within these firefighters since day one.

“These are all my kids,” Chief Brack said. “And they did a great job and I was just proud. This is like being a proud parent.”

Investigators say Friday’s fire at Stonybrook Apartments started as a domestic abuse call.

Velmondo Williams, the man accused of setting the fire, remains in jail Monday tonight.

His children, we're told, will all be okay.