Time was so critical that a firefighter rushed into a burning home without first trying to extinguish the fire to rescue a 10-year-old who was in bed.
The boy was critically injured in the house fire early Monday in Rockville, officials said. The boy was at home smoke in the 200 block Elizabeth Avenue when the fire broke out shortly before 7:30 a.m.
"The heavy rescue squad made immediate entry without protection of a hose line," and found the boy inside, said Montgomery County Fire Department Chief Richard Bowers.
The boy, 10-year-old Paul Motta, was unconscious and suffering from smoke inhalation.
He was rushed in critical condition to a local hospital. Relatives who rushed to the scene said the boy was home alone because his father had taken his older children to high school.
"All I could see was smoke coming out of the house," said Anna Rose Moten, a neighbor.
Fire officials said Tuesday that the blaze was sparked by the wiring for an electric clothes dryer in the kitchen of the home. They're ruling the fire, which also caused $125,000 in damage, as accidental.
Moten and her grandson watched as a fire fighter emerged from the burning building and placed the injured boy, a friend of Moten's grandson, on the ground.
Moten comforted members of the child's family, who are grateful to the first responder who saved their loved one.
"He's a heroplain and simple," said Michael Rodriguez, the victim's cousin.
Members of the shift who responded to this blaze returned Monday night to perform another important duty. "We're out after the fire. We're checking all the homes in the area for smoke detectors," said Capt. Brent Hopkins of the Montgomery County fire department.
Fire officials say the home did not have a working smoke detector.
"Smoke detectors save lives," Hopkins said. "No ifs, ands or buts about it. In Montgomery County you have to have one on every level of the home. It's the law."