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.

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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.

Juan Torres (credit: CBS)

“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.

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“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.

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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.

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Firefighters arrived and carried another woman down a ladder who had been trapped inside her second story apartment.

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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.

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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.

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