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Residents Of Upper West Side High-Rise Step Up To Help Doorman Who Lost Everything In Apartment Fire

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A beloved doorman on the Upper West Side who is known for helping others is getting some kindness in return.

An early morning fire in Concourse Village, the Bronx, gutted Kwame Kissi's apartment.

"I was sleeping and somebody was outside my door and said, 'Hey, wake up, the building is burning,'" he told CBS2's Dave Carlin. "And I go to my living room and saw the fire is on my terrace ... and I tell everybody, all my family, hey, let's get out of here."

Fire investigators told him they suspect a lit cigarette was dropped from a terrace above.

Kissi, his wife, an adult daughter and teenaged son lost everything in the June 4 fire.

"Right now, I'm looking for a new place to move my family," he said.

Kissi kept working, devastated and masking it with a smile, running the front desk as a doorman at a luxury Upper West Side apartment building, where he quickly realized he has many friends there who care.

Now, the tenants of the high-rise are helping him out in a big way.

"They give me clothes, shoes and everything," Kissi said.

They've also set up a GoFundMe page.

"I consider him, like, the definition of a valuable member, contributing member of society, and I think that so many of the tenants here feel that way," Upper West Side resident Sireenah Michlovich said.

Kissi is a native of Ghana, West Africa, and the tenants got to know him well because they are regular participants in his donation drives.

Every other month for seven years, he's been sending big boxes loaded with necessities to schools, orphanages and community centers in his homeland. Some of those boxes burned in the fire.

"When I was back home, I used to go to school with the barefoot, no shoes, so when I came to this country, I know that they throw a lot of good stuff, clothes, shoes, they throw in the garbage," Kissi said. "It means a lot to them. It means a lot to them."

With urgency, he'll get back on his feet so he can get back to providing for families in Ghana, grateful for how he is being helped.

"It's so amazing," Kissi said.

He believes when bad things happen, good people step in.

That applies to him and to some generous tenants.

One of the tenants told CBS2 it appears a vacant apartment has been located for the apartment to stay in, rent-free, while the burned apartment is renovated.

Click here to donate to the GoFundMe set up for Kissi and his family.

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