BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — One Birmingham firefighter remembers where he was on April 27, 2011.

Capt. Don Bailey was one of several people fighting for their lives as they took shelter in Station 18 in Pratt City that day. That day, 74-year-old Bessie Brewster was killed and many homes were destroyed in the area.

Originally, Bailey was not supposed to be at Station 18 that day. During that time, he was at a recruiting school and got dispatched to different fire stations to help out before the tornado hit. Not long after they arrived, the tornado hit a church next to the station.

“We took off running into a closet,” Bailey told CBS 42 Morning News anchor Andrea Lindenberg on the 11th anniversary of the tornado. “We all ran in there and had to hold the door to keep from being sucked up.”

Bailey said he remembers the tornado hitting the station, breaking all the windows and snatching the door open.

“We all three were holding onto the door to keep that door from opening,” he said. “We all thought we were gone. It was devastating.”

Bailey said that right after the tornado left the area, people in the community walked to the station for help. From there, firefighters went into rescue mode. Looking back, Bailey said he was impressed by how many people went out of their way to help one another.

“It was amazing how the community came together to help each other out,” he said. “People were getting other people out of houses, apartments and so forth and they were directing them toward the fire station pause that is where we set up command.”

Bailey, who also worked in McDonald Chapel after a tornado hit that community in 1998, said the tornado in Pratt City was unlike anything he had ever seen.

“That was the worst experience I ever had,” he said.