Cellphone video showed several girls making harrowing escapes as flames and smoke engulfed the building. "We didn't have that much time", good Samaritan Toni Nehmi said. Hanging from the balcony as the blaze closed in, the children were forced to jump to safety.
The fire broke out in a dance studio on Monday evening. Adults tried to help them, substituting ladder, but very quickly it became clear that they were too short.
A nearby business owner, Tony Nehmi, told NJ.com that he rushed toward the blaze when he saw smoke.
"People were telling me it was bad".
"We looked up there, were two girls on the second floor banging on the window", said Dalton. "They escaped due to the bravery of these two guys".
"I was the one who called the fire department".
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New York Daily News reported that the fire is believed to have started on the building's first floor, the home of a auto fix workshop, before it spread to consume the entire building. Some children are seen jumping onto the ladders, and, eventually, the people on the balcony are forced to fall 10 feet to the ground below.
Five people were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.
The building that caught fire houses multiple businesses including the dance studio and a hookah lounge.
Flames were whipping out of the windows as Mayor Michael McPartland said he and a pal witnessed a police officer and businessman rescue the children from the second story.
"They weren't able to make it", said Twomey.