A group of young boys are being hailed as heroes by their neighbors for helping to save lives after a massive apartment complex fire in Bucks County.
Residents who were displaced after a four-alarm fire destroyed the Racquet Club Apartments on Route 413 in Middletown Township Friday evening say that the boys noticed the flames and started warning neighbors immediately.
“Somebody banged on our door and said the building was on fire,” said Jim Hargraves.
Twelve-year-old Elijah Rodriquez is one of the boys who sprang into action as fire crews headed to the scene.
“We kept running, knocking on every single door – we went from "A" building to "B" building,” said Rodriquez.
Neighbors say if not for them, more tenants could have been seriously hurt or worse.
“As long as they’re safe, I’m good,” said Rodriquez.
Tenants like Gary Fralin came back this morning to salvage what they could. Going against all safety advice, the corrections officer walked back into his burned out apartment to get his weapons and uniform. A fire at his last apartment at another complex also destroyed his possessions.
“It's my second fire in two years. It's definitely something I had to do. I lost everything the first time. I lost everything last night,” said Fralin.
Many residents were home when the fire started, shortly after 9 p.m.
Angelo Aquaro said he heard one of the boys shout “Fire, get out!” He rushed outside for safety, and watched the fire spread.
"Everything we have is gone in half an hour,” Aquaro said.
Carl Van Hart went into rescue mode, running door-to-door.
"I saw the fire coming through roof, I banged on all the doors to get everyone out of the building," said Van Hart, who has lived at the complex on Route 413 for 5 years.
Van Hart lives in the "H" building, across from the "B" building that caught on fire.
"Very unbelievable…fire coming through the roof, all the way around," says Van Hart.
The fire lit up the night sky with bright orange flames and dark gray smoke. When it was over, investigators counted 48 units that were affected. The impact on people means about 100 are displaced. While many were home at the time of the fire, others arrived after work or a night out to discover what had happened.
Erin Mullen was at work when she got the call that her home was gone.
"It's a little difficult. Money is going to be tight now," she said.
Middle Township Fire Marshall Jim McGuire says it took about 180 volunteer firefighters from all over Bucks County more than three hours to bring the fire under control. Two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion.
"The fire kept jumping the fire walls. The fire department did six trenches…usually fire walls stop blazes. The way they were designed, they went from floor to ceiling. They did not span outside exterior walls, so when running the attic space, it would jump outside wall,” said McGuire.
Red Cross volunteers are assisting residents who need a place to stay or emergency items like food and clothing. About 15 families have been given financial assistance so far.
"Imagine now you would feel if you lost everything," said Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes with the Red Cross. "It takes a minute to get over the shock."
Red Paw, an emergency relief team for animals, were also there to assist residents with pets.
Investigators say the fire appears to be accidental but it is still and active investigation.
This story is developing. Refresh for updates.