Young boys give thanks to DC firefighters who helped rescue them - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Young boys give thanks to DC firefighters who helped rescue them in house fire

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Two little boys badly burned in a March house fire had their wishes come true Thursday. They met the D.C. firefighters who ran through flames and thick black smoke to save them.

The four-year-old best buddies were together on a sleepover when first responders found them unconscious on the second floor of a home on Stevens Road in Southeast D.C.

You would have to be a pretty tough guy not to have your heart in your throat watching William Brooks and Justin Hyman say thanks to the men who saved their lives.

William is still recuperating at the HSC Pediatric Center in Northeast D.C. where he and Justin exchanged high fives with the men from Rescue 3, Truck 16 and Engines 15 and 25.

You wouldn't know it by looking at them today, but 27 days ago, the two little boys were very likely seconds from death -- breathing in the toxic fumes from a blazing fire.

It was Saturday morning on March 29 when Joey Hoffman, James Gordon, Robert Alvarado and all of the other firefighters raced towards Stevens Road.

"Squad 3 copy. Children trapped second floor," said the driver as he raced to the scene.

Outside the house, a neighbor watched the men go to work: "They were putting the ladders up, breaking the windows, cutting the bars.”

Once inside, a firefighter screamed, "I got a victim! Second floor, I need a hand getting him down.”

"When I found (Justin), it was like picking up a rag doll,” said Joey Hoffman. “I handed him off to EMS. And the last time I saw him, I was running down the sidewalk and [he was in] one of the guy’s [arms] on the ambulance.”

Hoffman with Squad 3 picked up Justin and James Gordon with Engine 25 found William.

At their reunion Thursday, William broke the room up when he was told his rescuers had come to see him.

"Oh! Thank You!” William said.

Gordon and Hoffman are quick to share the credit. Curtis Bender with Truck 16 searched the house too, pulling out Herbert Slater who is still in ICU.

Robert Alvarado with Squad 3 grabbed William’s grandmother, Mary Brooks, who sadly didn't make it.

For just under an hour or so, the men shared stories and gave the boys shirts, hats and toy fire trucks. It’s therapy for them too.

"It's a good feeling,” says Hoffman. “It helps our healing process too. Whenever you deal with kids and you have kids of your own, it hits home and you finally get to see these guys and experience this. It's excellent.”

When James Gordon pulled William out that morning, he said, "I hate to say it, it didn't look good. I didn't think he had a chance.”

Now, both boys are well on their way to recovery.

William may be days from his release from the HSC Pediatric Center where he has been receiving physical therapy.

"As many people know, with burns, it can be very painful and people don't want to move when they have burns,” said physical therapist Anne Ruecktenwald. “So once you stop moving, you are at risk of losing other things, so we had to keep him mobile and moving from day one.”

Both boys look like they are mobile and moving just fine.

It is a sight to see for these firefighters who don't get to take part in many reunions like this.

"When we arrived on the scene, you wouldn't have expected this day to come,” said Hoffman.

William’s mother was burned by the fire before jumping out a second-floor window and breaking her leg. She met the firefighters at the door and told them where to find the boys.

The cause of fire is still under investigation.

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