A law enforcement officer from Orange County, Florida was regarded as a hero for saving a baby on Saturday from an apartment fully covered in flames.
Faithwire reported Orange County Sheriff's Deputy William Puzynski was among the first responders to a 4:15 a.m. fire at the Orlando-based Isles at East Millenia apartment complex. Puzynski recounted in an interview with ClickOrlando that the building was fully engulfed when he got to the Isles at East Millenia. The area was already full of chaos, he said.
The fire impacted a total of 24 units of the apartment complex, of which 12 were directly affected. People were on the balconies trapped and calling for help. Among them, Puzynski saw an infant after he heard her screaming.
"I saw on the third balcony there's a 1-year-old baby that the mom was trying to get over. At that moment I knew I had to save the baby. And then I just climbed up to the third, grabbed the baby, and then again I handed the baby down to my partners, and they helped me down," Puzynski said.
Puzynski took off his heavy bulletproof vest before he started to climb and threw it in haste. The vest had an attached camera, which providentially captured the entire rescue.
In the footage, Puzynski could be seen climbing several balconies before he got to the infant who was screaming in fear on the third floor. The officer took the infant from her mother, who he then lowered to the other deputies waiting on the ground. The baby's mother and grandmother could be seen next descending the terrace through a ladder. No untoward incident took place during the baby's rescue.
Puzynski shared that it was truly rewarding to rescue the child and see his mother full of joy because of it.
"Afterwards when the mom came and found me, she actually gave me a hug, so it was rewarding. It's a different feeling. Some nights you go home, and you don't really know if you've made a difference, but in situations like this, you feel it," Puzynski stressed.
The Orange County Fire Rescue also arrived and saved seven additional people from the fire. Firefighters threw ladders to the building and got everybody out safely. It took an hour from the time the call on the fire was made for the flames to be extinguished.
Meanwhile, the American Red Cross disclosed that more than a dozen people were displaced and are in need of help for basic necessities. The building's electricity had to be shut down, which forced all occupants to leave their units. The Red Cross and county officials immediately helped the displaced find temporary shelter. A total of 31 people were displaced because of the fire.
Orange County officials reported that two firefighters were injured along with three residents in the fire. The Red Cross highlighted that a child was among the three injured residents. Officials also disclosed that the fire started on the apartment complex's first floor. The cause of the fire is yet unknown and is being investigated by the Florida Fire Marshal, as per Orange County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Chris Henesy.
"The State Fire Marshal comes out depending on the extent of the damage or if there's suspicion of illegal activity. At this point that's under investigation," Henesy said.
As of Monday, the displaced families returned to their apartments to salvage whatever was left of their belongings. One of those badly affected was a disabled 7-year-old girl who lost her motorized wheelchair in the fire. Gordon Brown, the girl's father, lamented that the loss of the wheelchair meant the loss of his daughter's freedom to move about.