Firefighter explosion survivor says it's all part of the job

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Lieutenant Ray McDaniel has a been a firefighter for 33 years. He typically works at Gulfport Fire Station 4. But on Tuesday, he filled in at Fire Station 8.

He responded to a fire, and it seemed like another day on the job... until it wasn't.

"He needed the front door opened, so I took an axe and knocked the front door open. And then it blew me outside, what one of the deputies told me, about six or seven feet out on my back," said McDaniel.

He escaped without serious injuries.

"My hip is hurting, my ankle is hurting and now my lower lumbars are starting to have some pain," said McDaniel.

He said he'll gladly take those injuries instead of the alternative.

"It wasn't my time, God has something special for me," said McDaniel.

Fire officials say a fireball exploded in the mobile home. McDaniel said the explosion opened his eyes.

"I have three kids and one's in California. You know, I called all them. I called my mom. I'm just lucky to be here," said McDaniel in tears. "I'm just glad my partner wasn't in there with me. Just me got hurt, so that's okay."

Gulfport Fire Chief Michael Beyerstedt said McDaniel is a dedicated man. He attributes one thing to saving his life.

"He did have his protective gear on, all the buttons buttoned. He had his mask on, otherwise this may have had a different outcome for him," said Chief Beyerstedt.

He said McDaniel has turned into a local hero, one he said he's proud to have on his team.

"Just thrilled to death," said Chief Beyerstedt with a smile.

McDaniel said the explosion gave him a scare, but not enough to scare him away from his job.

"If something's going to happen, it's going to happen. We just show up the next day to work," said Beyerstedt.

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.