MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A 5-year-old boy was in critical condition Wednesday at Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center following a house fire Tuesday night in the 800 block of Orphanage Avenue.
Arriving at the blazing home just before 11:00, fire crews broke out a back window and crawled through thick black smoke, feeling around until they found the unconscious child.
Once outside, they resuscitated him several times before his pulse was strong enough to transport him to the hospital for smoke inhalation treatment.
Before firefighters arrived, the boy's mother, Geneva Richardson, and three other children escaped the burning home with the help of a neighbor, Willie Milton. Before the fire, the two had never met.
"I had to give him a hug," Richardson said. "And I cried on his shoulder, because, man, I think him for real. My babies are my heart."
Richardson and her four children were all home when the fire split the house in half. She escaped out a front window, at the same time Milton was driving past.
"I seen the lady jumping out the window," Milton said. "I was thinking, 'this is for real!'"
As the four children became trapped in the home's two back bedrooms, Milton ran into the flames.
"I thought I'd be alright," he said. "I could just go in real quick and grab them. But the smoke was all over the house."
"I couldn't see anything in there. It was pitch black."
Through thick, black smoke, Milton found the three oldest children and pulled them to safety.
"There ain't no words to express how much thanks that I have right now. There's none," Richardson exclaimed.
But Milton said he was simply helping a family in their time of need.
"Anybody would've ran in there and did what I would've did," he said. "So it's not being a hero. It's just being human."
The fire caused substantial damage to the home. Fire officials are still investigating what sparked the blaze.