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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A homeless man is being credited for saving the lives of several people, including children, in an apartment fire just before dawn Wednesday.

Miami fire crews were sent to the three-story building at 7899 NE 4th Court after receiving word of the fire. Before they arrived, however, a couple who lives nearby in a tent were already saving lives.

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“I was sleeping and I was woken up Thomas and Terri, a homeless couple who lives in an open field next to us by the river, and they got us out of the house. We are very blessed to have them in our lives,” said one man. “There’s a lot of damage. There’s about eight units on the second floor and at least two of them are going to be gone.”

“He woke up everybody in the building.  If it wasn’t for him we’d probably all still be in there,” said another resident of the building.

“And thank you Jesus he gave this man enough strength to do what he did,” yet another grateful resident said with a smile.

Thomas Umstead said he was fishing in the river for food when he saw that something was wrong.

“I seen smoke, I was fishing, I fish every night so we can eat,” said Umstead. “My old lady said it was just a dryer vent and I said ‘That ain’t no dryer vent’ and so we ran on down there and started screaming and knocking on doors.”

Umstead said he and his wife did all they could to help get the people out.

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“It was black smoke up there. I carried a baby and helped a black lady down that was screaming for help. She was halfway down but she was stuck. She said I need your help.”

Umstead said he’s always wanted to do something like that to save others.

“I’ve always wanted to do that all my life. I’m so glad I got a chance to do that before I died,” he said. “I’ve always wanted that chance to do it. Be in the right place at the right time.”

When firefighters arrived they helped several residents who were trapped.

No on was hurt but couple of people were treated for smoke inhalation.

“In speaking to this homeless person turned good Samartian and even life saver, there were numerous people who were unaware of the fire. He helped some women and children get out of the building and for that we credit him as hero,” said Miami Fire spokesman Captain Ignatius Carroll.

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The fire is called suspicious because the apartment where it started was supposedly vacant because the people who lived there had recently moved out.