A massive fire on Jan. 3 at a metro-Atlanta apartment complex had residents fleeing for their lives and parents tossing their children off of upper floors to waiting firefighters below.
The early morning blaze, which consumed the Avondale Forest Apartments on Pine Tree Circle near Memorial Drive in Decatur, Ga., displaced dozens of people and sent several to the hospital, according to WSB-TV.
But the most dramatic moments happened as firefighters worked to evacuate the building. As the flames raged, firefighters told reporters they were catching children and infants left and right as parents dropped them down from the upper floors.
“We were catching babies like a football – literally,” fire Capt. Eric Jackson told reporters, according to CBS News. “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.”
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One video, captured on a firefighter’s helmet camera and shared by a firefighters’ union on Facebook, shows one of those dramatic rescues. Captain Scott Stroup runs under the balcony and stands ready as a parent is forced to toss him a child from a ladder two stories up the building. Stroup catches the child and sprints over flames on the ground to safety, then collapses on his knees
Other firefighters caught babies too, including Captain Jackie Peckrul, who told Fox 5 she recalled thinking “Lord, let me catch this baby,” as parents tossed a blanket-wrapped infant toward her. She made the catch.
At least 12 people were injured in the fire, including eight children, but no deaths were reported, according to CBS 46. Nearly 8o people were displaced by the fire in the end, and were transported to safety by a MARTA bus, reported WXIA.