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Older Sister Credited With Saving Little Brother From Brooklyn Building Fire

11-Year-Old Janixia Soto Got Assistance From A Pack Of Good Samaritans

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A sixth grader from Flatbush, Brooklyn is being hailed for her quick actions that likely saved her toddler brother’s life during an early morning building fire.

As CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported Thursday, Janixia Soto was holding her little brother on their fire escape but could not go down to the street because the ladder was broken. So the 11-year-old decided to drop her little brother into the arms of good Samaritans below.

Soto said she did what any big sister should do in a situation like that.

“If it was your brother, what would you do?” Soto told Gainer. “They were like ‘drop your brother, drop your brother.'”

After the fire broke out at the grocery store downstairs, Janixia’s mother told her to go down the fire escape while she searched for their cat.

“I went down one level, I put my dog down. And my mom had put my brother out on the fire escape,” Soto explained to Gainer.

3-year-old Walter, safe in his mother's arms. (Credit 1010 WINS Reporter Eileen Lehpamer)

3-year-old Walter, safe in his mother’s arms. (Credit 1010 WINS Reporter Eileen Lehpamer)

With her brother, Walter, in her arms Janixia realized they were trapped. The ladder was stuck and surrounded by smoke.

Down below, a passer-by shouted up to her to drop her brother.

“There’s one person out there so I’m like ‘I’m not doing that,'” Soto said.

But after several more people crowded around on the sidewalk below, Janixia dropped her brother to safety.

“They were right there so all I had to do was reach out my arms and let him go,” she told Gainer.

With her brother safely on the ground, Janixia and her mother were rescued by the FDNY.

Janixia not only helped her brother but also credited her own personal smoke detector with waking the family up in the first place.

“There was a short fire here a couple of years ago. So ever since then, my nose and everything has been really sensitive to smoke. So my nose had started burning,” she said.

Janixia also waved off any talk of being a hero.

“It’s just another day at work. You gotta do what you gotta do, especially for family, whether it’s a matter of life or death,” Soto said.

Two firefighters and two others suffered minor injuries.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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