Tallahassee, FL - A birthday party in Tallahassee tonight is like no other in Charles Smith's long life.
The 89 year old FAMU professor was pulled from his burning home earlier this year and tonight, he'll meet the men who saved his life.
"A huge blaze just blew up. I fell to the floor I remember that much," Dr. Charles U. Smith said as he described the fire.
Smith is still recovering from a fire in May that almost killed him.
He was life flighted to Shands, spent two months there he doesn't even remember and is still coping with the damage smoke did his lungs. But the longtime sociology professor is very much alive.
'It's a miracle. I think that taking all things into consideration, I should be dead. I don't like to say that, but there is no reason why I should be alive since I didn't act very wisely and I was there alone," Smith said.
Smith tells us the fire started when he mistakenly filled his hurricane lamps with gasoline instead of kerosene.
The fire spread through Smith's home on Cloudland Drive.
Neighbors told firefighters that an elderly man lived there alone.
Firefighters Nick Peppard and Buddy Harvey crawled through the thick smoke and flames that night to find him. They found Smith in a back bedroom.
"When we found him he was unconscious on the floor barely breathing," Peppard said.
Smith's family has invited Nick, Buddy and the rest of that Tallahassee fire crew to share in Smith's birthday celebration tonight. It's a birthday he came perilously close to missing.
"I want the whole fire department to know how much I appreciate their services and their availability. I'm just so pleased they saved it ... a frame house ... and they saved me," Smith said.
"It it just wasn't his time," Peppard said. "It really is an amazing thing knowing he made a full recovery and it's exciting to know that two years into my career with the Tallahassee Fire Department that I'm able to be a part of something like that. It really is special," Peppard said.
Smith hopes to rebuild his house and move back home.
In the meantime, he is working on publishing a new book.