NEW YORK -- Thanksgiving Eve took a drastic turn for a Bronx family as they went from preparing Thursday's meal to jumping from their burning building.
Six people, including four firefighters, were hurt in the fire Wednesday.
Fire ravaged the first floor of a two-family home along Manida Street off Lafayette Avenue in Hunts Point.
"I smelled the smoke, and I heard screams," Ashanta Smith told CBS2's Ali Bauman.
Smith manages a rec center across the street. He grabbed fire extinguishers from there and ran over.
"Get to the front door, a man was coming out with the two kids in the smoke, so I threw the shirt on, went in there, tried to put the fire out. Smoke pushed me back. At that point, we had people on the top floor," he said.
An 8-year-old girl trapped on the second floor was paralyzed in fear, standing at the window.
"The flames were coming out the windows. I mean, it was really, really intense," neighbor Mitzi Gonzalez said.
The bodega owner down the block sprinted over with his son.
"I see the little girl sticking out the window. I said, you gotta jump, we can't wait for firemen, we gotta get her," Gilbert Valle said.
Valle stood below and called up to the child.
"I told her, 'Jump, I'm not gonna let you down.' She jumped to me. I brought her down," he said.
Then the girl's 16-year-old sister came to the window, followed by their mother. Valle caught all three.
"I went to them and I hugged them. 'Are you alright? Is there anybody else in the house?' They were happy, they gave me a hug. I said I love you, they said they love me. We don't know each other, but I love them," Valle said.
Firefighters soon arrived and extinguished the flames. Both the top and bottom apartments are left charred.
"Day before Thanksgiving, and now what are they gonna do? Where are they gonna go?" Gonzalez said.
But what the victims do still have are their lives, and tonight, everyone in this neighborhood is grateful for each other.
"Thanksgiving Eve, this to happen, it was a blessing that so many people were out here to help," Smith said. "That's what we do, New Yorkers. When it's time to go, we're here."
The fire chief on scene told us it is unusual to have a fire as big and fast as this one in the middle of the day. Officials are now investigating the cause.
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