KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A quick thinking firefighter saved a one-month-old boy from a burning apartment building in Knoxville Sunday morning. He caught a baby thrown to safety from a third-story window. The firefighter says he isn’t a hero, but was just doing his job.
The fire call came in just before 8 a.m. at The Bricks apartments on East Magnolia Avenue. The infant, named Josiah, landed in the arms of Knoxville Fire Department Senior Firefighter Bo Merritt.
“There he is, you know, with a baby hanging out. Asking us to save his baby. We didn’t have ladders setup at the time but a lot of smoke was coming out and something had to be done,” Merritt said.
The fire started in the back stairwell of the four-story apartment building, and Merritt says smoke inhalation was a major concern. When Josiah’s father yelled for help, the fire ladders were just beginning to go up as fire crews arrived. Crews rescued some people who were trapped in the building by using ladders.
“Anybody in this department would’ve done the same thing,” he said.
Merritt said in the moment, he didn’t think twice about catching the baby, and didn’t realize what could have happened until it was all over. He said it wasn’t something he was trained to do.
“[I] turned around and looked up at the window. He had the child in his hand. I noticed all the smoke that was coming out. I didn’t want the baby taking in a lot of smoke. He trusted me for some reason to do that. By far the scariest thing I’ve ever done,” he said.
Josiah’s mother says he is healthy and doing fine on Monday. She said she was scared at the time, but is grateful someone was there to help.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Two people were taken to local hospitals for smoke inhalation and an injured ankle.