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Sanitation Workers Save 5 Children, Mother From Burning Home In Queens

Thankful Neighbor: 'If It Wasn't For Them, They Would Have Died'
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Sanitation worker heroes

Two New York City Department of Sanitation workers saved a family of six from a burning home in Queens on Dec. 13, 2011. (Photo: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A family leaps from their burning home — into the arms of two New York City Sanitation Department workers who just happened to see the flames.

CBS 2’s John Slattery has the heroic tale from Far Rockaway, Queens.

Joe Maneggio and Semi Nkozi began their work day saving the lives of a whole family.

“If you saw it happen, you would have done the same thing, I’m sure,” Maneggio said.

1010 WINS Reporter Sonia Rincon was on McBride Street…

It was 6:15 a.m. Tuesday, where neighbors on McBride Street saw a home blazing in flames.

“The Flames so big, I could see from back of my house,” neighbor Teela Meadows said.

One of those inside the house was Octavia Shoffner.

“There was fire, ran, opened window, started picking my little cousins out. Sanitation man helped us off the roof,” victim Octavia Shoffner said.

The two sanitation workers had spotted the fire, called 911, and ran to the house where children were out on the lower roof.

“The roof underneath them was hot. Flames right underneath them. I saw flames in the window. We yelled jump, jump into my arms. I grabbed and they came down one after the other,” Maneggio said.

Inside, two women and four children, ages 9, 12, 13 and 17.

“They were like helping, telling them to jump, so they could catch them. Everyone kept jumping, kid after kid,” Meadows said.

From family and neighbors comes praise for the two men in green.

“They did a good job. ‘Cause if it weren’t for them, they would have died,” Meadows said.

It was a fire that was raging so badly, there was no way out, but to jump into the arms of those who wanted to help.

The four children were treated for burns. Their 36-year-old mother suffered back and foot injuries from the fall.

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