Tales Of Bravery Come Out Of Building Fire With Trapped Residents

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LAUDERHILL (CBSMiami) – More than a dozen families are left without a home in Lauderhill as a fire breaks out at an apartment complex.

As fire took over an entire corner of the Cypress Tree Apartments, a mother-to-be who lived there raced out before flames grew even larger.

Glenton Daley says the fire started at his apartment where his pregnant daughter, due in just two weeks, woke up to the blaze shortly after 11:30 a.m.

Everything in their apartment was destroyed, including all of the gifts his daughter received at her baby shower recently.

“Everything. The stroller, car seat. Whatever. Everything for the baby is all gone,” said Daley.

“Everything was just popping as if some of the material inside the apartment, maybe the gas or microwave, was exploding. The patio was collapsing on the ground and flames along with it,” said witness Shaneice Stewart.

“There was fire shooting out the window… the roof collapsed in, pieces of the house was breaking down the floor,” said witness Maurice Thomas.

As those flames leaped from the fourth floor of the building, the real drama was building in the back, on the other side of the hallway from that fire. A mother and her 4 and 5-year-old kids were trapped on the balcony. They couldn’t get out of their apartment because of the thick smoke from the huge fire on the other side, just feet from her front door.

Oshine Graham threw mattresses to the ground as she toyed with a terrifying decision – should she throw her children over the railing?

“It was kind of hard to throw them from the fourth floor because it’s a long way down,” said Graham.

R.O. Dawkins lives nearby. He had already raced through the building to get people out. Now he was ready to catch those kids if need be.

“We was ready. We was ready to catch those kids. She was ready to throw the little one. The baby was first. I was like this under, to catch the baby. As soon as the truck came around, I said thank God,” said Dawkins.

Firefighters arrived just in the nick of time. First, one child was hoisted over the side. The rescuer carefully carried her down. Then the 5-year-old boy was carefully handed to firemen.  He too made it down just fine. Everyone was okay, thanks to those firefighters. One of them was just out of the academy.

“We keep our skills sharp and it showed today,” said Daniel Speerin with Lauderhill Fire Rescue.

“It’s what we train for and when the day comes and you actually have to put that training in use, you’re ready for it,” said Lt. Jamal Clarke with Lauderhill Fire Rescue.

That wasn’t the only act of bravery.

Travis Williams raced into the burning building, up to the fourth floor where he rescued a handicapped elderly woman

“I had her on my back walking downstairs,” said Williams.

As for injuries, one person – an expectant mother – suffered from smoke inhalation.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter at the apartment clubhouse as everyone tries to figure out how they are going to replace their belongings and start all over again.

“I don’t know how I’m going to manage but it’s just one step at a time,” said Daley.  “We find a hotel for maybe one or two nights and then we take it from there.”

As for the cause of the fire, the cause is under investigation

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