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Mom, 2 kids rescued from burning car

July 21, 2009 5:59:50 AM PDT
Two off-duty firefighters are being called heroes after rescuing a mother and her two young children from a burning car. It was a very tense and dangerous rescue that was all caught on tape.

The woman was driving with her two kids in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sunday when she lost control of the SUV. The SUV rolled over, hit a tree and then burst into flames.

People surrounded the burning car, yelling and screaming, with the woman and her two young children still inside. Two off-duty firefighters and a police officer were in the crowd.

The firefighters broke the windshield, then pulled the mother and her 2-year-old daughter out. The woman's 4-year-old boy was still trapped inside the burning vehicle and had to be cut from his car seat.

The boy was hospitalized with severe burns over 30 percent of his body. His condition has been upgraded to serious but stable.

The two firefighters were treated for burns on their hands and arms. They say they couldn't have done it without the help from the crowd of good Samaritans.

"If it wasn't for, you know, the citizens that were bashing that window open that gave us access to the child, you know, things would have been different," said firefighter Joel Rechlitz. "If that person didn't come forth with that pocket knife, things would have been different. If that lady didn't come through with that garden hose, you know, the burns sustained to that child would have been much more severe."

"It shows the spirit of the citizens of the city of Milwaukee, coming together to have a successful ending to this tragic event," said Milwaukee Police Lt. Mark Wroblewski

The firefighters, who are brothers, were honored by the mayor of Milwaukee on Monday.

The boy's father spoke out Tuesday, saying the off-duty officers and neighbors deserve more gratitude than words can express.

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