A teenager is being called a hero for helping two kids escape as flames ripped through their Hartford apartment complex on Washington Street Saturday afternoon.
“Everything was pitched black. I couldn’t even breathe,” 11-year-old Jeffery Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez – with soot still on his face – was safe with his sister, 7-year-old Manesh as they and others took refuge from the cold on a bus.
They watched Hartford firefighters work into the night after a two-alarm fire in their apartment complex at 194 Washington Street.
“My mom screamed a lady said there was fire. I was freaking out. I was really scared,” Manesh Rodriguez said.
At the time Manesh and Jeffery had been home in their third floor apartment.
It’s on that floor firefighters say flames somewhere, somehow started.
The brother and sister were able to escape with the help of a 13-year-old neighbor they didn’t even know.
That teenage hero and her dad pulled the kids into their apartment, gave them water, and helped them escape the fire and dark smoke.
“I say thank you to them for saving us because I thought I won’t survive,” Manesh Rodriguez said.
Hartford firefighters say they had to rescue several people including some who had burns. Fire officials estimate four or five residents needed medical care, but everyone is expected to recover.
At least one apartment was damaged by the fire. Fire officials said 105 people were displaced – 86 adults and 19 children.
The American Red Cross opened a shelter to house the residents Saturday night.
As of Monday morning, 74 of the 136 units in the building have been deemed safe and those residents have returned home. The remaining residents have bene set up in temporary housing.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.