WEST MIAMI-DADE (CBSMiami) – A woman in despair sat on a bench outside her apartment early Monday morning, but it wasn’t because her West Miami-Dade apartment was about to burn to ashes.
A neighbor had to stop her from going back into the smoke-filled apartment to save a precious item.
“I basically took a peak into her apartment when I pulled her out,” said neighbor Alex Morales. “Her entire kitchen was on fire. She was fighting me to try to go back in.”
When firefighters arrived, the woman begged Miami-Dade Firefighter Andy Suarez to get it for her.
She made it known that she did not care about the contents in her house,” said Suarez. “All she wanted was that picture.”
Moments later, Suarez emerged with a large picture frame. The mother could only say “thank you” with a kiss and a hug.
The photo is of the woman’s son. Ironically, he was a fire fighter, and has since passed away.
“She kind of collapsed; she hugged me, and I was just trying to reassure her that everything will be okay,” said Suarez. “Then I apologized that the glass in the picture was broken, but she didn’t care about the glass being broken.”
Monday, the woman’s other son returned to the apartment to salvage what little he could. He didn’t want to comment, but said his mother’s belongings are destroyed. Everything was lost, except for the photo.
The firefighter in the picture is Orlando Mayor. He was a fire fighter with Miami-Dade County before serving as a firefighter with the City of Hialeah. He worked in Hialeah for five years until the time of his death in 2000, said the spokesman with the Hialeah Fire Department. Mayor was part of the Hialeah Fire Department honor guard and died in a car crash on the Turnpike.
It seems only fitting that the memory of his life and service was kept alive by another firefighter.
“I’ve never had a reaction like this lady’s,” said Suarez, who has been a firefighter for ten years. “At the end of the day, when you get a reaction like that, it makes it worthwhile.”
Officials said late Monday that the fire was accidental after a pot was left on the stove.