"Thank you, thank you," Stephanie Adams said. "If it hadn't been for him, I would have died. I'm blessed that God put him here at that moment."
It's hard for her to look at what's left of her home.
"Thank God my son wasn't in the house," she said.
Last Friday Adams was asleep in her second-floor bedroom when she was suddenly awakened by the roar of a raging fire.
"I got up and started coming down the hall and there was so much smoke that I couldn't see," she recalled.
Although it was difficult to breathe, Adams says she made it to the front of the house.
"I got to my son's room and was banging on the window," she said.
That's when the off-duty Raleigh firefighter, who was in the area visiting relatives, jumped into action. He was already on the phone with 911 when he realized Adams was in trouble.
"She's trapped in the house," the unidentified firefighter said. "I'm a fireman. Here, I'm going to let you talk to my son."
The man found a ladder and placed it against the house. Adams says she's afraid of heights but the firefighter was able to coax her out of her second-floor window and down to safety.
"He was telling me, 'come on you can do it, you can do it, you can get down, come on, you're not gonna fall, you gotta get out of there now,'" Adams said.
She suffered serious injuries from smoke inhalation. She knows this story could have had a tragic ending. That's why she's thankful to the stranger who gave her a lifeline and made it possible for her to see her 5-year-old son start his first day of school.
"I love you," Adams said. "You're my hero. Thank you. Thank you."
She says she wants to meet the firefighter and thank him for saving her life or as she put it, "for saving a mommy."