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'Guardian angel' firefighters pull mom, baby from burning SUV

By the CNN Wire Staff
The SUV caught fire after the driver hit a tree, CNN affiliate WSOC reports.
The SUV caught fire after the driver hit a tree, CNN affiliate WSOC reports.
  • A mother and infant son were trapped in the vehicle
  • Volunteer firefighters in a North Carolina town pulled them from the burning SUV
  • The accident occurred a short distance from the fire department

Read WSOC's story on the rescue.

(CNN) -- Jeff Peterson and his 30 volunteer comrades with the Community Fire Department in suburban Charlotte, North Carolina, were enjoying an early Christmas dinner Sunday afternoon when someone looked out a window and saw smoke, thinking it might be a car fire.

A few donned gear as others rushed outside the North Belmont station house to find it was an SUV that had struck a tree. Video taken at the scene showed flames shooting out of the engine compartment and the driver's white door blackened from the fire.

Local resident Kathy Lamberth apparently had lost control of the Suburban, CNN affiliate WSOC reported.

"You couldn't see in the vehicle," which was about 35 yards from the station, Peterson, 36, told HLN on Wednesday.

Within moments, Peterson and fellow paramedic Neil Jones, along with firefighter/EMT Jake Beatty, found the doors were jammed. They opened the rear swinging doors of the vehicle and saw Lamberth, whose seat had been pushed back by the impact, trying to reach her 3-week-old son, Landen.

"We knew while it was an urgent situation we could make the rescue without harming ourselves," said Peterson, who provided aid to the mother and son after Jones and Beatty brought them out of the burning vehicle.

"I thought as long as he made it I was happy," Lamberth said, referring to her son.

Landen did not suffer injuries, WSOC said. Lamberth, 23, who was treated at a hospital and released, had gratitude for the firefighters.

"They were our guardian angels," she said.

Officials credit part of the quick response to the fact they had gathered for the meal.

"We were miraculously all there for dinner," Peterson said.

HLN's Tracey Jordan and CNN's Phil Gast contributed to this report.