When firefighters arrived at the Arbor Wood Apartments Tuesday morning, Brandon Huffines and his fiancee Amanda Keller had already escaped from their burning second-floor apartment. Their child, eighteen-month old Shaun Huffines, was trapped in his bedroom in the burning building.
"My priority," firefighter Daniel Bailey says, "was to attempt to rescue that child, and that's all I had on my mind."
"You don't have time to think about the emotions," firefighter Hal Walker added. "You just have to put them aside and do what you've been trained to do."
Daniel arrived first, going through the front door with his partner. When his unit arrived soon after, Hal took a ladder and went through the baby's window.
"There was zero visibility, 100% smoke," he says. "It was all about feel and touch."
"I'm not sure how long we were in there," Daniel explains. "It seems like forever there sometimes, just looking, looking, looking...we came out but at that point, you've got a baby in there, so I made my decision to go back in."
Daniel was going back through the front door as Hal made his way into the baby's room. Reaching for the crib, he found the child.
"All I could do was feel the baby," he says. "I could tell it was lifeless at that point."
The baby was lowered out the window, and Hal came down. Daniel, however, was still inside, unaware the baby was safe. As he was in the doorway, the apartment flashed over.
"The gasses in the room just exploded," Daniel says. "It blew out the balcony window glass door."
As Daniel crawled out of the ignited apartment, pieces of melting metal vents dripped on him, burning through his protective gear. Down on the ground, Hal had broken an ankle. But Hal and Daniel, the other firefighters, and EMS personnel on scene, had given the child a chance.
"I did what any other fireman in the city of Tyler would have done," Daniel says. "That's go in and do the best you can."
Hal also deflects the credit, and when questioned, rejected the hero tag.
"Firemen don't really look at themselves as heroes," he says. "We're just doing what everyone else would do under those circumstances."
Both firefighters credit the rest of their companies, and EMS for their quick action in helping keep the baby alive. Shaun Huffines remains in a Dallas hospital in critical condition.