Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

Marcus McGee, 30, a 2004 graduate of North Chicago High School, has been on the Richmond Fire Department in Virginia for about three years. On Dec. 17, he was one of four firefighters whose engine was first on the scene of an apartment building fire with an 11-month-old girl trapped inside, Richmond Fire Department Chief Patrick Schoeffel said.

McGee and three other firefighters arrived on the scene within 33 seconds of getting the call. Thick black smoke, however, caused zero visibility along the street and the engine was forced to stop 100 feet short of the building.

As Firefighter Korey Pettiford parked the engine and tapped the hydrant, McGee, who served as acting lieutenant that day, and two others ran toward the fire. From that instant, it took the firefighters one minute and 49 seconds to get the baby out of the house.

The building had four apartments. Neighbors told the firefighters that a baby was still inside, but they did not know which apartment, and were blinded by the smoke.

In the third apartment they entered, which was on the second floor, the crew found the fire’s source, which was in a bedroom to the right and they heard crying coming from a bedroom to the right.

While in the smoke-filled hallway, a flashover occurred. They could hear the baby crying, and expected the worst. McGee and another firefighter, Parker Ramsey, who has been with the department a year, addressed the blaze, while 5-year veteran Carlos Samuels found the child.

Because the hallway was ablaze, Samuels covered the baby as best he could and shot out of there down the steps.  All of that happened in under two minutes, the chief said.

Soot made the baby appear to be burned, but she was not. She was treated for smoke inhalation and released from the hospital the following day.

“This kid probably had a minute or less to live,” Schoeffel said. “This kid is probably 10 feet away from (the flashover) and didn’t get burned,” Schoeffel said.

Meanwhile, the heat from the flashover melted the three firefighters’ gear and burned their ears.

“Everything was ruined except for their boots,” the chief said. “Everything they had on suffered such a heat blast that it burned holes, and it can’t be used anymore.”

thanks Dan