DENVER (CBS4) – Residents in eight apartment units were forced out of their homes after a fire broke out Saturday morning. Smoke started pouring from the building on 4th Avenue and Knox Street in Denver around 9 a.m.
A pregnant mother dropped her two young children down to a bystander from a second story window, witnesses said. Paramedics rushed five people to Denver Health Medical Center, including three adults and two children.
“I (went) out, and (saw) smoke,” said Juan Torres, who lived on the first floor in a unit since covered with boards.
Torres ran from one unit to the next banging on doors and knocking doors down to help get his neighbors out.
“When I broke the door, all the smoke came in my face and I couldn’t breathe,” Torres told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia.
Neither could the family who stood trapped in the unit above him.
After tossing her two young girls down to a resident standing below, the pregnant mom jumped out of the window, crashing onto a glass patio table, Torres said.
Firefighters arrived and carried another woman down a ladder who had been trapped inside her second story apartment.
Jose Luis Garcia, a longtime resident, returned to his smoke-stained home Saturday evening to salvage what he could.
“Ten years of living here… Just gone,” Garcia said.
He and his son planned to spend the night in a hotel. It was unknown if or when he and his neighbors would be able to move back in.
Torres was unsure where he would stay, having escaped with only the clothes on his back. Neighbors said the mom and her kids were expected to make a full recovery.
Investigators had not determined the cause of the fire, but say the fire appears to have started in the garden-level apartment and worked its way upward into the floors above.
The American Red Cross says they are helping five families.