Video: Boy survives drop from 3rd floor in Boston blaze

  1. Transcript of: Boy survives drop from 3rd floor in Boston blaze

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Finally tonight, this next story was almost very bad news. It started with a fire alarm in Boston last night. It ended with an act of heroism that defines what it means to be a first responder, to protect and serve your fellow citizens instinctively, and how a split-second life and death decision is just part of another night on the job. The story from NBC 's Ron Mott .

    RON MOTT reporting: Firefighters are trained to stand and deliver in the flaming heat of battle. But after midnight, one of Boston 's bravest essentially did the opposite. He stood and received. His catch, a terrified six-year-old boy hurled from a burning apartment building.

    Lieutenant GLENN McGILLIVRAY (Boston Firefighter): I was thanking my lucky stars. I was -- I was just -- happened to be in the right place at the right time, and that's what -- that's what we're here for.

    MOTT: The veteran and his crew were called out on a six-alarm blaze. More than a dozen people trapped, including young Xavier Lamb . All were rescued.

    The boy's grandmother confronted with an impossible life and death decision: wait for help or drop Xavier three stories down. The fire lieutenant was waiting below.

    Ms. JUDITH LAMB (Xavier's Grandmother): I thank God for that because I don't know what I would have done. I thought that that was the end. And I thought that we were going to die in that fire. It was so bad. It was so scary.

    MOTT: It was a frantic scene when firefighters arrived, little Xavier dangling from a window, held by his grandmom. Firefighters were rushing to get a ladder extended to the upper floor when his grandmother simply couldn't hang on any longer. Tonight, 75 people are homeless, thankful fire crews got to them in time.

    Ms. LAMB: I think they did their job so well. Well done. Even though I lost everything I had -- what I had. But the greatest thing that cannot be replaced is my life, my family's life, and I thank God for that.

    MOTT: A fine example of bravery under fire and a well-deserved pat on the back from a hero just doing his job. Ron Mott, NBC News, Boston .

msnbc.com news services
updated 10/17/2011 7:11:17 PM ET 2011-10-17T23:11:17

A Boston firefighter caught a 6-year-old boy who was dropped from the third floor of a blazing apartment building early Monday.

"Thankfully he landed in my arms and that's a good feeling," Lieutenant Glenn McGillivray told WHDH.

A suspect was in custody after the 6-alarm fire tore through a large apartment building in Roxbury. Firefighters rescued at least 15 people, including the 6-year-old grandson of Herbert and Judith Lamb, who live on the third floor of the apartment building and said they were awakened by an explosion and smoke.

The Lambs broke a window and dropped their 6-year-old grandson, Xavier, into McGillivray's arms.

"I had to drop him out the window," Judith Lamb told The Boston Globe. "The firemen caught him."

It was a scary scene as the blaze enveloped the building, the firefighter said. “She’s hanging on inside the window so she doesn’t fall out, and he was petrified as to if he was gonna fall, so thankfully we got there in time to get underneath him and catch him,” McGillivray said.

The firefighter denied he was a hero after catching Xavier. "It's a job; we are just trying to do the best we can."

The blaze damaged or destroyed more than two dozen apartments in the large, U-shaped building on Wardman Road in the city's Roxbury neighborhood.

Residents who escaped said they heard an explosion at about 1 a.m.

Confession?
A short time later, fire department spokesman Steve MacDonald told the Associated Press a man showed up at a hospital and said he started the fire.

"He walked into Boston Medical Center with burns and admitted certain things to investigators, so he was placed under arrest for arson of a dwelling," MacDonald said.

Mohamed Abdul Jabar, 28, of Medford, was transferred to the burn unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was being treated in intensive care with second-degree burns to his arms, hands and face. His injuries don't appear to be life-threatening, police said.

Police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said a preliminary investigation indicates that Jabar set the fire as part of a failed suicide attempt.

It was not clear if he lived in the building or was visiting, MacDonald said, and no motive was known.

NBC affiliate WHDH reported that the suspect, who suffered burns on 10 percent of his body, was charged with arson of a dwelling and multiple counts of attempted murder. Damage to the building was said to be about $3 million.

Roxbury Fire
Aram Boghosian
Firefighters battle a 6-alarm fire at an apartment building in Roxbury early Monday.

MacDonald said the windows and frame were blown out in one corner of the building and bricks were littering the street.

Ten residents of the building were taken to hospitals, most suffering from smoke inhalation. Two firefighters and a police officer were also treated for what were believed to be minor injuries, MacDonald said.

Firefighters said all residents were accounted for, though MacDonald cautioned that crews had not yet been able to enter the building.

About 160 firefighters were called to the scene and they were still pouring water on the building several hours after the blaze started.

A temporary shelter was set up in the city for residents displaced by the blaze.

MacDonald could not immediately confirm initial reports that the fire may have been started after a gas line to a stove was cut.

The Associated Press and WHDH contributed to this report.

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