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Child Rescued From Blaze Meets Firefighter Who Saved Him

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Dereontae Ashford  and his grandmother, Jennifer Smith. (Credit: Steve Miller/WBBM Newsradio)

Dereontae Ashford and his grandmother, Jennifer Smith. (Credit: Steve Miller/WBBM Newsradio)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A 6-year-old Englewood boy seriously burned in a house fire has now been reunited with the firefighter who pulled him from a burning basement a year ago.

The firefighter who pulled Dereontae Ashford to safety last year was Tom O’Connell.

“Thick black smoke,” O’Connell said, describing the situation he faced that day. “Absolute zero visibility.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller Reports


“I’m searching and I want to find him. And then when I did find him, in that quick second, it’s like, ‘Oh my goodness, here he is.’ “

O’Connell went to Dereontae’s kindergarten class–because Dereontae wanted to see him.

“He was given a second chance and he’ll have to figure out someday what that was for,” O’Connell said. “Maybe he’ll be president or maybe he’ll be a fireman. Who knows?”

Dereontae’s mother Sabrina Ashford says despite the extensive burns that Dereontae suffered, amazingly, he’s pretty much the same.

And she says he doesn’t want to be president or a firefighter. But a basketball player.

“He wants to be D-Rose,” Sabrina said.

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