NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There was tragedy and a desperate escape as fire severely damaged a house in Newark on Wednesday morning.

One man was found dead inside the home. Another leaped from the top floor as the flames spread, and it was caught on camera, CBS2’s Scott Rapoport reported.

The heart-stopping video shows a raging inferno and a man trapped on the top floor. He then makes a life-or-death decision and leaps from the home in a last-resort attempt to survive a fiery fate.

The blaze started before 6 a.m. Bright orange flames lit up the dark morning skies on Summer Avenue. A two-and-a-half story home — to four families — was virtually destroyed.

“It was something that went like this — a second,” neighbor Erma Soto said, snapping her fingers. “The house went boom, all the way up.”

More than five-dozen firefighters rushed to battle the blaze, which turned fatal. One man from the house was found dead in the basement. And then there was the man who was trapped on a top-floor balcony, with fire all around him. His only chance to escape was to jump — an impossible choice to make.

“The smoke was coming out the window, flames were coming up and it was either that or he died. He had to do it,” friend Patrick Dally said.

So he leaped for his life.

“We saw him when he flew down,” Soto said.

He tried to land on the second-floor balcony of the house next door, but then fell to the ground. Newark Fire Department officials told Rapoport the man is in critical condition.

For witnesses who saw the entire, harrowing scene unfold, they said it was almost too much to bear.

“Oh, I think they said he couldn’t breathe, and then I went inside crying,” neighbor Nury Perez said.

“It was very scary. And not being able to help him, that really broke our heart,” neighbor Ursala Paya added.

Fire officials said three others in the home suffered minor injuries and that all of the families have since been relocated. Authorities still don’t know how the fire started.


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