SACRAMENTO, CA - A neighbor rescued a mentally disabled resident from his home before smoke and flames ripped through four apartments in a north Arden Arcade neighborhood late Thursday afternoon.
PHOTOS: Arden apartment building catches fire
Another resident, a woman, jumped out of her upper story apartment window to escape, said Michelle Eidam with the Sacramento Metro Fire District. The woman was transported to a local hospital with minor to moderate injuries.
Eidam said the flames started on the first floor of the apartment building at 3700 Merrily Way and spread to the second floor. The initial investigation suggests a cooking fire led to the damage.
The first 911 fire call came in just after 4:40 p.m.
Firefighters were able to get the flames under control relatively quickly once they got there. In the end, everyone inside made it out alive, and firefighters gave credit to neighbors for some quick thinking that made all the difference before fire crews even arrived.
Firefighters said the flames began in an apartment on the first floor. Everyone on that level made it out safely, but as the fire spread, those on the second floor became trapped when flames reached the staircase. That left the windows as the only way to escape.
Neighbors began moving into positions below those windows to help those on the second floor. Firefighters said on one side of the building a mentally handicapped man made it to safety with the help of his neighbor. At one point, people nearby were able to get a ladder to help some down, but for the family living directly above the apartment that first caught fire, they couldn't wait. A mother and her nine-year-old daughter had to jump from the window into the arms of neighbors below.
"We were wondering if anyone was up there, and then they came to the window, and we couldn't see them, but it was black smoke, but we could kind of see them, so we have to get the girl out first, and then the lady, she was kind of scared to get down, but we assured her that we could get her down," Neighbor Marvin Orr said.
When paramedics arrived they took that woman to the hospital to treat her injured ankle, but she is expected to be okay. Her daughter and everyone else made it out safely. The Red Cross will be helping the families affected.