WASHINGTON - A D.C. firefighter is in fair condition after he risked his life to save a great-grandmother trapped inside a burning apartment building.
Danny Lovato was injured after he removed his air mask and passed it to Phyllis Terrell, a resident standing near a third-floor window struggling to breathe as a fire burned on Minnesota Avenue in Southeast D.C.
Terrell was already on oxygen for a medical condition. She told her granddaughter she was just seconds from jumping when she saw the firefighter come up to the window.
"We knew immediately we had somebody trapped up there that we had to go get out,” said D.C. Fire and EMS Lt. Dan White.
White and fellow firefighter Joshua Elie then headed into the burning building and up to the apartment while Lovato climbed the ladder.
"He took a couple of breaths, gave his tank to us,” said White. “We were able to use that and bring her out.”
"I pretty much just kept yelling, ‘Just take some slow deep breaths,’” Elie recalled. “Before we all walked out, I made sure Lovato got off the ladder. I held the ladder at the top of the balcony. I yelled down to him, ‘Was he good?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ And then we made our way out.”
They held Lovato’s mask all the way down on the great-grandmother's face so she could breathe fresh air.
"It's about as selfless as it gets,” said Ed Smith, president of the DC Firefighters Union. “He essentially traded places with the lady that he saved.”
Both Lovato and Terrell were transported to MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
Lovato spent Wednesday night on a respirator in the intensive care unit. But doctors and other firefighters who have visited Lovato say he is alert and responsive on Thursday. They also say he may even get out of the hospital by Friday.
Outside of the hospital on Thursday, Tyrika Terrell told us her grandmother can't stop talking about Lovato and how brave he was.
In addition, four D.C. police resource officers were first on the scene and also helped to evacuate residents from their apartments while the fire raged.