MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An apartment building fire in St. Paul forced multiple people to escape out their second-story windows.
The fire happened around 7 a.m. Wednesday at an apartment building located on 455 Maryland Ave. W.READ MORE: Mayor Frey Speaks With North Minneapolis Community Members Saying They're Fed Up With Recent Surge Of Gun Violence
The St. Paul Fire Department says the fire started when a 14-year-old lit a candle in his bedroom and it got out of control. The boy’s mother and sister were home, too, and ran into the hallway to get out, but the boy was blocked by the fire.
The boy then jumped from the second-floor window. Medics checked him out, but he didn’t need additional treatment.
After the building’s alarms went off, neighbors called 911 and the building was evacuated. However, when the mother and sister ran into the apartment’s hallway, their apartment door got caught on a doormat, which allowed smoke and heat to fill the hallway.
One man was found struggling to get out by firefighters. Another resident waited for help at a second-floor window due to the smoke being so thick. And other residents found their own way out of the building
“They were minutes away from someone being killed or hurt,” St. Paul Fire Marshall Steve Zaccard said.
He added that the apartment door of the unit where the fire started is self-closing and prevented the hallway from being a safe emergency route.
Naree William and her family — who also live on the second floor — heard the fire alarm go off, but they thought it was a false alarm until William’s mother tried to go into the hallway.
“She couldn’t open the door and then she woke up all of us and we had to jump out the window,” William said.READ MORE: Minnesota Can Move Forward With 'Clean Car' Rules, Judge Says
Once they were out, they began banging on the building to wake the neighbors up.
That’s when she heard a scream.
Christina and her 7-year-old son, Carlos, were trapped on the second floor. They live just next door to the apartment where the 14-year-old lit the candle.
“It was so black there, I could see nothing,” Carlos said.
Naree William’s father backed his car up to the building, below Christina and Carlos’s window. As he got on top of it to reach them, Rashed Ogunmade, a man who works down the street, came running to help.
“I tell the mother, drop him,” Ogunmade said. “Drop him into my hands.”
Together, the two men pulled Christina and Carlos out the window. Christina had only a few scratches and bruises.
Firefighters then arrived on scene and were able to put out the fire.
There is no sprinkler system in the building. It wasn’t required when the building was built. The fire was contained to the apartment where the candle was lit, but there was damage to other areas of the building, including the hallway, which could have been prevented by a sprinkler system.MORE NEWS: George Floyd's Family: Federal Indictment For Four Ex-MPD Officers 'Gives Us Hope'
The good news is that everyone got out okay, and other than the unit where the fire started, all residents have been allowed back into their apartments.