NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A Newark, N.J. family suffered tragedy Thursday morning after flames tore through a building overnight. A three-year-old girl lost her life, and her five-year-old brother was in critical condition at the Burn Center in St. Barnabas Hospital.
Building owner and first floor resident Naomi Gaton said the mother stood on the sidewalk frantically pleading for the rescue of her two children trapped in the second floor apartment.
“Because the mother was here crying. She was here. She jumped from the porch and she say ‘The children Naomi! The children’!” Gaton recounted. “They are nice people. We are like family. I feel sorry for everybody.”
Newark firefighters ultimately rescued the children. Both were in cardiac arrest at the time.
The blaze broke out at midnight on the second floor of a three-family apartment house at North 6th Street and quickly spread.
“The fire was raging out the second-floor window, it was really burning by the time the fire department got here, it was out of control,” Yvette Hamlett told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg said.
One neighbor tells 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg that one resident was trapped on the porch and someone helped her climb down
“When the fire first started the flames were extremely high,” said neighbor Gregory Hamlett.
Hamlett said another unidentified resident joined firefighters in the rescue effort. “He was climbing up like Spider-Man, like a hero. He was pretty brave because when the flames started they were pretty high and there were people trapped inside, there were children. And the firefighters got them out.”
The building’s other seven residents were brought to safety by neighbors who helped from the adjacent roof and scaled a ladder at the back of the building.
“When my father woke up, the house was on fire. We ran to the bathroom, and because everything was getting on fire my dad opened the window and we had to go through the roof,” said resident Henry Zamora.
Eunice Roper said it took at least two phone calls before the Fire Department showed up despite the fact that an engine and ladder company is located just down the block. “They were coming around, just slow to initially to get here. I feel really bad about it because its two small children and I have a granddauther who’s five-years-old and always speaks to the little girl.”
Fire officials told CBS 2 they actually responded to a physical knock on the firehouse door and were not only on the scene in “about a minute,” but had the fire under control in just over an hour.
The Newark Fire Department’s arson unit was investigating the fire and did not consider it suspicious.