Fire Captain Chris Fields had been working for two hours on his shift April 19 when he and the dozen others at Station No. 5 heard the explosion and saw billowing black smoke. Thinking a natural gas explosion had occurred, they jumped on four engines and two trucks and sped to the federal building 17 blocks away. Fields vividly remembers arriving at the scene.
"People [were] running everywhere with looks on their faces I can't find words to describe," he says. "I don't think I will ever forget those faces."
Most of the nation will not forget the face of Chris Fields. He is the firefighter caught by a photograph flashed almost immediately around the world of him tenderly holding one-year-old Baylee Almon. Fields took Baylee into his arms 30 minutes after he began digging slowly through the rubble.
"I thought of my own two-year-old son, Ryan," Fields says. "But even more, I thought of all the parents who had kids in that building." Fields, a member of Westmore Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, talked later with Baylee's mother, Aren, who thanked him and other rescuers for their efforts.
"That helped me, because I didn't know what to expect," Fields says. "Sometimes, in emergency situations, a person might say we didn't do enough."
Fields has received hundreds of cards and letters from around the world, which he plans to answer. But he knows it will be a long time before things are back to normal. Until then, there is talk of a park being developed on the former site of the federal building-a park with a memorial statue dedicated to those rescue workers depicting a firefighter cradling a child whose tiny arms are stretched toward heaven.
Editor's note: A complete article about Fields will appear in the July ...1
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