How do you thank a man you don't even know for saving your life?
That's the question on the lips of a D.C. great-grandmother when she thinks about the firefighter who gave up his own oxygen mask so she had a chance to survive.
Both rescuer and fire victim are now recovering, thanks to the quick-thinking and self-sacrifice of DC firefighter Danny Lovato.
When Fire Truck 7 pulled up to the apartments in the 1700 block of Minnesota Avenue SE on Thursday, a handful of police officers had already evacuated the residents from the lower floors. But Phyllis Terrell, 65, was hanging out her window, trapped on the third floor with heavy smoke rolling out.
“She said it was just filled with smoke and she couldn't see,” said her granddaughter, Tyricka Terrell.
Lovato threw a ladder against the side of the building -- you can see him in a photo climbing into the smoke -- and tried to convince the great grandma to hold on.
“She was about to jump,” said her granddaughter.
Lieutenant Dan White and Firefighter Joshua Elie raced inside. “We raced through everything and got to her,” said Elie.
But Terrell could not breathe any more of the toxic, superheated air, and it was too risky to take her down the ladder, so Lovato did an extraordinary thing. In the middle of that smoke, he pulled off his mask and air tank and handed it to Terrell.