CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - Charlotte firefighters are calling their rescue efforts ‘miraculous' after they were able to rescue a man last week when his home exploded on James Jack Lane in Ballantyne.
"It's miraculous that we were able to pull someone out, and we just [have to] focus on the positive," said fireman Matt Saraceno.
The scene was unlike anything Charlotte firefighters had ever seen. They thought they were going to fight a house fire but instead found a home blown to pieces with two people trapped inside on July 2.
"If we got a chance to make sure we can get a person out alive, of course we're going to work harder and faster," Chris Cangemi said.
Dispatchers were able to make contact with Dr. Jebran Karam. They say he was trapped under six to eight feet of rubble.
Their access hole was only about as big around as a basketball. But what perhaps helped them the most was that Dr. Karam was on his smart watch with 9-1-1 the entire time telling them where he was and also trying to guide them to his wife, Rania Karam.
"If you're given a specific room, you look for things that would be in that room," said Capt. Chad Michael.
Firefighter Cody Whiteside said, "The fact that happened of that magnitude and there was a viable victim inside was shocking to anybody that was on the scene."
Firefighters began moving wood, marble and granite. When they finally found Dr. Karam, a firefighter squeezed down the small hole in the rubble and could only see the doctor's face.
It was like a chess game, we move one piece of two by four or marble, the other piece might come crashing down," said Cangemi.
They used a camera to place down in the hole and figure out what parts of Dr. Karam's body were trapped and where not to cut to keep him safe, but still make the hole bigger to get him out.
"In a rubble pile of I don't know how many square foot house there was, that was amazing," said Cangemi.
Firefighters carried the doctor over a creek and through the woods to get to the rescue helicopter. But the work wasn't over.
Hours later, there was devastation. They found the body of the doctor's wife, Rania Karam in the rubble.
"It was a good day but sad day too," Cangemi said.