'She's pretty tough:' Father of baby rescued from Stonybrook apartment fire

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Joshua Preston (WPEC)

Joshua Preston, the father of a baby girl found unresponsive inside a burning apartment Friday night, calls his daughter a fighter.

“She’s pretty tough,” he said. “For a 1-month old baby to go through such a tragedy is heartbreaking.”

His daughter, Desire Smith, remains hospitalized at St. Mary’s Medical Center.

She is recovering from second degree burns and smoke inhalation.

“Her middle name is Miracle, it’s really perfect for her,” Preston said.

Preston has no words for 22-year-old Velmando Williams, the man who Riviera Beach police said is responsible for setting the second-floor unit at Stonybrook Apartments on fire.

“He even had his own two boys in there. That’s just beyond crazy,” he said. “I can’t even imagine what would make a man do such a thing.”

Police said Williams set the fire intentionally after a domestic incident with the children’s mother.

Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters said neighbors used chairs and other items to save get the 3-year-old and 1-year-old boys out of the burning apartment, but they couldn’t find the baby girl due to the heavy smoke and flames.

Firefighters arrived shortly after and eventually found the 1-month-old using a thermo-imaging device.

A door had somehow landed on top of her, which Preston believes may have saved her from the flames.

“I really appreciate them so much,” Preston said. “I owe them my life for them risking their life to save my baby girl. I just thank God. Luckily, they were able to get out of the house.”

Williams is facing charges of attempted murder, false imprisonment, simple domestic battery and first degree arson.