Hartford firefighters on Thursday honored everyday citizens that saved lives during a fire two weeks before.
The Hartford fire chief called two men who jumped into action during a fire heroes.
“Nothing short of remarkable. They were literally catching babies from windows,” Chief Reginald Freeman said.
Four men were presented with the Chief’s Award of Excellence for helping families escape from a burning building on Wethersfield Avenue on March 7.
Miguel Rodriguez said he was walking by with his dog when he realized the building was burning and jumped in to help a mother get her kids out of a second-story window.
“She threw down her middle child first. I caught him. Then she shot down her youngest, a little girl,” he said.
Joe Lauzon, who was working at Metal Industries next door, helped to catch the first child with Miguel. But he didn’t stop there – he and his coworkers used a ladder to try and rescue others.
“We just kept going room to room, trying to get people to climb down the ladder and do what we can,” Lauzon said. “You can’t hear people screaming for help and walk by.”
They were all recognized for their efforts, along with Ciara Nazario, a dispatcher who calmly helped direct a couple on how to keep the smoke out while waiting for firefighters to arrive.
“Not one time did she waiver. Not one time did she sound nervous. Not one time was she frantic. And because of her professionalism she saved lives that day as well,” Freeman said.
They all said they appreciate the recognition.
“I couldn’t stand by, you see what I’m saying. God forbid I’m in a situation like that, I would want somebody to help my kids,” Rodriguez said.
Firefighters also rescued more than a dozen people during the fire. Ten were sent to the hospital with smoke inhalation, and one with burns.
The apartment building is still fenced off. People have not been allowed back inside and are staying at hotels temporarily. A Manchester woman was charged with arson.