Dontae Johnson could only think of one thing to do when he heard his neighbor cry for help.
“We heard the guy screaming, ‘Help, help, we need to get the kids out of the house!’” Johnson said. “So I just put my shoes on, we all just ran in the house and got everybody out.”
A fire broke out at a home on the 3300 block of Gratz Street in the Tioga section of the city around 2:30 a.m. while three adults and four children, including a baby, were inside. Johnson and other neighbors helped get some of the children out. Firefighters were able to put out the blaze about 30 minutes later.
The interior of the row home was heavily damaged. One of the residents, Betty Jordan, says she was away at the time of the fire and received a call when she was at work.
“You can’t describe it,” she said. “The first emotion is you feel like you lost something. My first instinct was my children. I didn’t know their whereabouts and how they were.”
A total of 11 people in all live at the home. While the family was displaced, no one was injured in the fire, thanks in part to the actions of the neighbors, including Nasir Haqq.
“I went in there,” Haqq said. “I had to come back out and grab somebody’s shirt to cover my face and then I ran back in.”
Officials are investigating the cause of the blaze. A resident told NBC10 however that it began after someone started cooking in the kitchen of the home. The Red Cross is currently assisting the family with clothing and lodging.