A Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputy jumped into a burning home in Lantana , rescuing three children from the flames overnight.
"The guy's a hero. He saved the kids' lives. He did a tremendous job," said Palm Beach County Fire Rescue spokesman Capt. Albert Borroto.
Borroto said firefighters were dispatched to the home in the 3800 block of Chickasha Road just before 2 a.m. A neighbor was the one to call 911. The deputy, who was on duty, apparently arrived first and likely found flames leaping from the home, Borroto said. He climbed into the home through what turned out to be the window to the children's room.
Shortly after, fire fighters arrived and the deputy was able to hand the children out to rescuers and then climb out himself.
The eldest of the children is reported to be about 13, the youngest was 4, according to initial reports. They were in the home with their mother or grandmother -- accounts differ -- who also escaped with help from the deputy, her nephew said.
"My auntie told me there was an explosion, she heard a big boom and when she heard the big boom she panicked," said Benny Herisse, who said he lives at the home with his aunt, his cousins and a brother. He was down the street at a friend's house when the fire started.
Herisse also praised the deputy.
"He's a hero. He helped her out pretty good, because she could've died," Herisse said this morning.
Two children were flown with serious injuries to St. Mary's Medical Center's trauma unit. The woman and one other child were taken to the trauma unit at Delray Medical Center. The deputy also suffered minor injuries and went to JFK Medical Center to be treated, Borroto said.
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, who appeared on the CBS News Channel 12 this morning, said he spoke to the deputy who was recovering from smoke inhalation. Bradshaw declined to name the deputy, saying that the deputies consider such work part of the job.
But Bradshaw was also full of praise: "Without any protective gear on, to just go right in there? ... There's no doubt in my mind those kids are alive because of his actions."
Herisse said the family rents the home and has complained about the maintenance of the house.
An investigation into the cause of the fire continues. The home is in a neighborhood south of Lantana Road, just north of Santaluces High School.
Copyright 2014 - The Palm Beach Post, Fla.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service