NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Neighbors and a passing motorist are being hailed as heroes after helping several people — including at least four children — escape a raging fire Sunday in Queens.
As CBS 2′s John Slattery reported, the fire erupted at 140th Avenue in Jamaica on Sunday morning, soon followed by neighbors’ screams for help.
“I heard someone say, ‘Please, please call 911,” said neighbor Lela Garrett.
Horace Palmer, who lives next door, said he heard the grandfather trapped in the basement.
“Flames shooting out from the side of building,” Palmer described. “The father was screaming, ‘Help, help, help! Call 911′ And by the time I look, he couldn’t get out the window.”
Palmer said he and a passing driver who stopped both ran to the house to pull the man through the basement window. Meanwhile, at least two other men on the other side of the house began catching at least four children as they jumped from the second-floor windows to escape the flames.
“The smoke was building up, so they jumped out the window in the back,” Palmer said.
Nine people were taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center with minor injuries from the fire.
Felicia Thomas, who lives next door, said her 29-year-old son helped in catching the kids.
“Just rescued the children that jumped from the window,” she told Slattery.
The identity of one of the men who helped catch the children, possibly a taxi driver, remains a mystery.
Palmer said saving his neighbors was their only choice.
“You don’t even think at that moment,” he said. “You just pull the guy out. It wasn’t even a thought.”
Neighbors applauded their efforts.
“That was a marvelous thing he did,” Garrett said. “That was wonderful.”
The children’s father declined to discuss the rescue Monday or say how his kids are doing.
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