Firefighter credited with pulling toddlers from burning mobile home speaks out


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — We’ve all been watching the conditions of three children burned in a mobile home fire in Virginia Beach. If it wasn’t for a firefighter’s quick thinking, this may be an entirely different story.

What Virginia Beach Firefighter Mitch Riley did on Tuesday morning was certainly heroic. However, he doesn’t want to be called a hero. In fact, he will be the first to tell you this rescue was a team effort.

Flames broke out early Tuesday morning inside the County View Mobile Home Park.

“As we pulled the parking brake, we had a police officer on scene who was yelling and telling us that two children were trapped inside,” said firefighter Mitch Riley.

Riley didn’t hesitate. He broke a window, climbed inside and felt around in the smoke for the two small kids.

“As I had my hands on the boy, on his torso, that’s when it just felt even more heat, that’s when the room flashed, everything just pretty much turned orange and I just knew we had to go,” Riley said.

He passed the kids out through the window and then jumped as the roof fell in. Minutes later, he drove an ambulance with the five-year-old inside to the hospital. Days later, he’s still thinking about the family, some of whom came to say thanks on Friday. 

“We think about them every minute of every day and that’s really where all of our focus is, is making sure those kids are alright,” Riley said.

PREVIOUS: Firefighter, neighbors save family of 5 from near deadly fire in Virginia Beach

He’s not the only one who wants to help this family. 

“I know its not an easy thing to go through, but I feel like anything we can do to contribute would take a load of this burden off of their shoulders,” said John Ferguson, who is a family friend and executive chef at the Bunker Brewpub at the Oceanfront.

On Friday, December 28, they will be donating a portion of all sales to the family.

“When they come back from Boston, they’ll be able to rebuild and start over,” Ferguson said.

A family member told 10 On Your Side on Friday that all three kids are at the Shriner’s Burn Hospital in Boston.  She says two-year-old Auroa had surgery today, five-year-old Jaxon had surgery yesterday, and seven-year-old Karia is doing well.  

They are all expected to make a full recovery.

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