Felix Vasquez, who is a New York Housing Authority supervisor, admitted he was scared himself on Wednesday night when the impromptu rescue occurred.
"The mom was panicking," Vasquez told CNN's American Morning on Thursday. "A lot of smoke in the apartment, she was nervous. She said, 'It's either me or my baby.' She let the baby go, and, thank God, I was there at the right time."
The infant boy had stopped breathing by the time it reached Vasquez's arms, so Vasquez "gave him mouth-to-mouth," he said, and the baby "started crying … and the fire department came over and did their part," which included saving the mother.
"She's doing great," Vasquez said. "She took a lot of smoke in, but she's doing excellent. She came up to me, hugged me, kissed me and kept thanking me and thanking me."
The 30-year-old mother, Tracinda Foxe of the Bronx, told New York's Daily News that when the flames engulfed her apartment she ran to the window with son Eric Guzman. "God, please save my son,"' Foxe called out. She explained afterwards: "I prayed that someone would catch him and save his life."
Vasquez, who learned mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as a teenaged lifeguard, honed his athletic ability as catcher for the Housing Authority baseball team, which has won its division three years in a row, CNN notes.
Fire officials are still investigating the cause of the blaze but say that it appears to be the result of careless cooking.
FDNY / AP