An assistant fire chief from Minnesota this week experienced a new first on the job.
North St. Paul Assistant Fire Chief Dustin Kalis on Sunday caught a baby girl who was carefully dropped from a second-floor balcony by her father to escape a raging fire.
“How special that moment was,” Kalis told ABC News. “The outcome was a good, positive outcome.”
He added with a laugh, “Never caught any babies from any balconies before.”
North St. Paul resident Stephanie Rasmussen was able to capture the moment on camera.
Rasmussen told ABC News she was letting her dog out when she saw smoke coming from a window. Soon enough, the smoke became “black and dense,” she said.
“All of a sudden I heard a man screaming, a heart-breaking scream,” she said. “When I looked over there, and that is when my heart sank even more because he had a pink blanket in his arms.”
Rasumussen described seeing the baby in mid-air as “sheer panic” but once the little girl was in Kalis’ arms “you heard a cry of relief from everyone.”
There was an active fire on the first floor when Kalis said he arrived at the 24-unit apartment complex. He started to give orders to the responding firefighters and he heard a plea for help from the side of the building.
“[I] look up and see the dad coming out with the baby,” Kalis said. He instructed the father to see if he could leave the apartment and make his way outside, but the father told him there was too much smoke and needed to drop her. He said he coached the father, who has not been identified, from the balcony.
The father “let her go and she ended up in my arms,” Kalis said. After the baby was handed off, Kalis helped the father get down.
Ten units were damaged in the fire and no one was injured, North St. Paul Fire Chief Scott Duddeck told ABC News.