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Other fire hero talks about New York rescue

  • Story Highlights
  • Horia Cretan became a hero for carrying boy from burning building
  • The other hero is firefighter Jimmy Senk, who went into the building
  • Senk saw boy disappear back into the smoke, so "I masked up and went in"
  • "I didn't think he was going to make it," Senk said
By Susan Candiotti and Ross Levitt
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- He's the other hero.

Horia Cretan carries to safety the child Senk pulled out of a burning apartment in the Bronx on Wednesday.

After pulling child to safety, firefighter Jimmy Senk went back into burning building in case another was inside.

Jimmy Senk is a Bronx, New York, firefighter who went inside a burning apartment with black smoke billowing out of the windows on Wednesday, pulled out a 4-year-old boy and handed him to a bystander.

"I'm just glad he's alive, you know?" Senk told CNN. The boy has since been released from the hospital.

The bystander, shopkeeper Horia Cretan, climbed four floors up a fire escape to try to help the boy before firefighters arrived.

Cretan couldn't reach the youngster. But when firefighter Senk and his fellow battle blazers arrived on the scene, they sprung into action.

Senk couldn't use the fire escape. Too many apartment residents were using it to get out.

"When I looked up," Senk said, "I could see the boy's arm sticking out the window." But the window was blocked by a bunk bed. Senk couldn't fit through the window.

One of Senk's fellow firefighters put him on a ladder and got him to a different window. But then the boy did something unexpected.

He disappeared into the black smoke back inside his bedroom.

"What am I gonna do now?" Senk recalled. "I masked up and went in."

Senk says there was intense heat. The smoke was so thick that he couldn't see a thing. He felt around for the boy with his hands. Senk found him near a doorway.

In video that's been aired repeatedly on local, national, and international TV, Senk is seen leaning out the window and handing the boy to Cretan.

Senk says he knew the boy wasn't in good shape. "He was unconscious. The body was limp. He was foaming at the mouth."

"I didn't think he was going to make it," Senk added. Video Watch Senk talk about the rescue with CNN's Susan Candiotti »

He says he yelled to his team to get some oxygen. Then, thanks to the helping hand from Cretan, he went right back in.

Senk said he had to. He remembered seeing that bunk bed.

"You see bunk beds; you gotta figure there's two kids in there, right?"

Meantime, Cretan said he was holding the boy. "He was lifeless. I cleaned up his mouth and his nostrils,' said Cretan.

He pushed on his chest and he says the boy opened his eyes. 'Once he did that, I was happy," said Cretan.

Then, he carried the boy downstairs and into the waiting hands of firefighters.

Senk didn't find anyone else inside the bedroom. When he eventually made it to the ground, his team patted him on the back.

"I said, 'I just hope that kid lived. And he [another firefighter] goes, 'He lived.' He was talking before he left,' " said Senk.

"It was just incredible. I couldn't believe it because he was completely unconscious."

Cretan has been congratulated on several TV shows for his efforts, but he acknowledged the role firefighters played.

"Trust me. Firefighters are heroes," Cretan said.


Senk says such rescues are a team effort.

"It's the greatest job in the world. You get to save lives every day," he said.

All About The Bronx

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