What to Know
- Firefighters in New Jersey extinguished a massive fire that ripped through a multi-floor home
- Images from the scene show thick, black smoke billowing from the home on Gates Avenue
- It is currently unclear how the fire started
A father saved his young daughters from a raging fire that tore through a multi-floor home in New Jersey Friday with the help of a hero that moved into the building one month ago.
The fire broke out on Gates Avenue around 10:30 a.m. and quickly escalated to a third-alarm blaze at the four-family house within about 30 minutes, Jersey City police said.
Orlando Martinez inititally heard a fire alarm go off, but thought someone was cooking.
However, a second alarm went off, followed by a third. When he opened the door, there was thick, black smoke pouring from underneath an apartment across the hall.
According to Martinez, he screamed for help and his neighbor came running upstairs and "busted the door open" to the apartment with smoke — the dog escaped, but the tenant was not home. When he turned around and entered his own apartment, the fire was already by his own door and the situation got worse quickly, Martinez said.
"When I opened the door the fire went over my daughter's head, so you can imagine how high it was, and the first thing she said was, 'Please daddy, I don't want to burn,'" he said.
Martinez would go on to get stuck in the room. However, he managed to save his daughters, but not without the help of his downstairs neighbor, another father.
"I didn't know what to do, so I started screaming out the window," he said. "My neighbor downstairs said, 'Break the window gates and throw the baby down. I got them.'"
Neighbor Koshawn Conrad said he managed to escape safely with his family, but when he heard Martinez's cries for help he had to do something.
"I was thinking that I have to get them out. That's somebody's life that could be lost," Conrad said.
Martinez and his daughters were ultimately forced to jump out of a second story window to escape the flames.
Conrad caught Martinez's first daughter — a moment, Conrad says, made him realize the gravity of what was happening.
"Reality hit, then he threw his second daughter out the window, I caught her. Then, he jumped out the window," Conrad said.
Images from the scene show thick, black smoke billowing from the home. Fire engines responded as firefighters were positioned on nearby roofs to extinguish the blaze.
The homes on either side of the building ended up sustaining smoke and water damage and were currently inhabitable. No injuries were reported.
As investigators look into the cause of the fire, Martinez is certain of one thing.
"I'm just happy I'm here with my kids - he's a great man. I'm happy my kids are with me right now," Martinez said.