An apartment fire left four people hurt and extensively damaged multiple units this morning but it could have been much worse if not for some quick-thinking residents, especially one mother.
“I heard some big noise and they were banging the doors,” said Salem Village Apartments resident Aravinda Dantuluri.
Flames broke out in Dantuluri's building along the 500 block of Oakdale Road in Newark, Del. around 4 a.m. Friday.
Dantuluri acted quickly. Unsure if her children would be able to make it out, she said she dropped them from their second-story balcony.
"I opened my side door and first I dropped my son downstairs and then my daughter," she told NBC10.com's Monique Braxton.
After helping her 14-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter off the balcony, Dantuluri made a run for it -- escaping the burning building unscathed.
None of her family was hurt.
The fire quickly spread to two alarms as heavy smoke and fire poured from the building, according to the Delaware State Fire Marshal's Office.
Three residents and one firefighter suffered undisclosed injuries.
Originally New Castle County Police officers arrived first and helped evacuate the 12-unit building. It took 50 firefighters about one hour to control the blaze.
The apartments were gutted leaving about 30 people and some pets out of their homes. The American Red Cross helped residents at a local high school -- setting them up with shelter, clothing and food.
The fire marshal's investigation into the blaze continued through the morning. Fire crews blocked off the area around the damaged apartments as day broke. Their investigation appeared to focus on a first-floor apartment where neighbors say the blaze began.
Fire officials hoped to let some residents back in around noon so they could gather some salvageable belongings.
Dantuluri, while grateful that her family was safe, isn't sure what is left of her home.
"My documents, my laptops, my kids' stuff," she said as she held back tears.