Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Peoria Fire Chief Bobby Ruiz and Brooklynn Castellanos at a press conference / Rebecca Smouse/The Republic

PHOENIX - The last words a mother heard from her teen teenage daughter before the girl lost consciousness in a fire were chilling:

"I can't breathe, I just want you to know that I love you and I think I'm going to die."

But Brooklynn Castellanos lived, along with the two others who were caught in the fire that erupted June 29, and on Thursday she joined the firefighters credited with saving her life -- one of whom is her father whose lessons she recalled that evening.

Castellanos is the daughter of Peoria Fire Engineer Tim Castellanos and has learned fire safety from him her entire life. Her father is grateful for her quick thinking, which he feels helped saved Brooklynn's life and those of her two friends after the fire erupted on the patio of her Peoria home.

"I couldn't teach wit and smart and quick thinking, she just has it in her," Castellanos said. "If one of those things didn't come together, including Brooklynn thinking so fast, she wouldn't have been here and this would have been different."

Firefighters received a call about a first alarm fire about 11 p.m. on June 29 and units were at the scene within minutes. By then, the blaze had started to consume two condos.

More units arrived and Peoria Fire Captain Billy Morris, along with others, entered the burning patio.

Inside the home, Castellanos was becoming overwhelmed with smoke and breathing became increasingly difficult. After being on the line with the dispatcher, Castellanos feared the worst and wanted to spend her last minutes talking with her family.

"The dispatcher told me to stay on the line, and I said, 'I'm sorry, I really can't. I've got to call my mom,' " she said, tearfully.

When both exits from the condo were blocked by fire, the three teens went into the bathroom and stuffed wet towels under the door.

Firefighters were able to reach the three teens and pull them from the burning building. Surrounding police officers and medical staff began CPR. The three were rushed to area hospitals.

"By all legal and medical purposes, they were dead. They had no pulse and were not breathing," Peoria Fire Chief Bobby Ruiz said.

All three teens have been released from the hospital and are on the road to a full recovery.

"This was the only (case) in 39 years I've seen where we've had three survivors," Ruiz said. "For us to have gotten in there and save three of them is phenomenal. It's a miracle."

Tim Castellanos called his family a "safety first" family and said he often taught fire safety in the classroom while his children were in grade school. While he said he sometimes goes "a little overboard" with safety lessons, he's grateful his lessons were beneficial.

"It would be great if (fire safety demonstrations) could save someone's life someday and little did I know it would be my own daughter's life," he said.

Although Castellanos has been a firefighter for many years, he said he often thought "it's just my job" after receiving thanks from the public for his services.

Now he said he understands the gratitude, because he feels the same for those who saved his daughter.

"Sometimes I have thoughts that what if I'm dreaming? And I wake up and it's not true? And I just have to pinch myself and look at her. I'm just so thankful that she's here," Castellanos said.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Fire chief calls teen's survival a 'miracle'

More In

test

Real Deals

Flip, shop and save on specials from your favorite retailers in central Ohio.

GET DEALS | COUPONS

Things To Do

WED
26
THU
27
FRI
28
SAT
29
SUN
30
MON
1
TUE
2

CLASSIFIEDS

Classifieds from across Central Ohio
Lancaster
Chillicothe
Newark
Marion
Bucyrus
Mansfield
Zanesville
Coshocton

Weeklies & Shoppers

10TV Headlines

Dispatch Headlines

METROMIX