Johnny Smith, Milko Reese, on Wednesday, July 17, 2013, in front of the unit where they saved two people from a fire on Monday.
ATLANTA -- Two people jumped into the fire -- literally -- on Monday to save a 2-year-old boy and his 70-year-old babysitter.
I met the rescuers in the rain Wednesday evening:
Johnny Smith is a security officer with Protect Security. Milko Reese works at Columbia Parkside at Mechanicsville apartments on McDaniel Street in southwest Atlanta.
And in the apartment complex's parking lot they told me about the moment at about 4:30 Monday afternoon when they realized that one of the units was on fire.
"I smelled the smoke and was like, oh my God, I know it was a senior citizen and a baby that's inside of the unit," said Reese, a grounds monitor for the apartment complex.
Reese knew that the 70-year-old resident babysits a 2-year-old boy in that apartment every weekday.
"I kicked the door and I grabbed the handle, I pushed the door open and as I pushed the door open, that's when all the smoke met me in the face," she said.
Reese found the woman first.
"And I had to get her out, and then start asking her, 'where's the baby, where's the baby?' Went back in there to try to get the baby and couldn't see and couldn't get through the smoke, and started screaming for help," she said.
"Milko yells at me, it's a 2 year old in the apartment," Smith said. "So I go back in the apartment, and trust me, when we read and hear stories about people saying about how thick the smoke is, trust me, you really can't see your hand in front of your face. Got to the bedroom, patted along the king-sized bed, patted along the bed for the little boy. And he was still sleeping. We both came out."
It turns out a grease fire in the kitchen quickly filled the entire apartment with blinding, suffocating smoke. The unit's sprinkler system activated and helped minimize the spread of the fire.
I wasn't able to contact the woman or the 2 year old and his family to speak with them.
The woman and child are both okay on this rainy night, when I met the two people in a parking lot who, in an instant on Monday, gave no thought of themselves, and transformed four lives.
"It wasn't about me," Reese said, "it was about getting the lady and the baby out of the apartment at that time."
"I need to give thanks to God," Smith said, "because if it wasn't for Him, we wouldn't have made it."
Atlanta firefighters arrived and extinguished the fire, and rescue crews tended to all four people.
"We was in the back of the ambulance," Smith said, speaking of himself and the babysitter. "Her blood pressure was sky high. And just with the look on her face, I knew what she was saying -- thank you."
"We are thankful no one was hurt in this incident," said Noel Khalil, the Chairman and CEO of Columbia Residential, in an email to 11Alive News. "I cannot express my gratitude to our noble team members who so seamlessly risked their lives" for others.
"The quick actions of these two individuals saved lives."