Neighbors are hailing a Hartford woman as a hero after she ran into a burning building to save an 8-year-old girl.
The fire broke out at an apartment building on Hillside Avenue on Thursday, around 6 p.m.
There was a child inside the building, and one neighbor risked her own life to try to make a dramatic rescue.
“When I saw the fire, I threw my phone, I threw everything I had and I just ran upstairs to try to save people,” said Magda Quinones Rivera, who said she knew her friend’s 8-year-old daughter Jenelli Thomas was inside the building.
“We tried breaking the door open and make sure there were no people but the fire was already strong, we kicked the door, it was very strong,” Rivera said.
She eventually got inside and found Thomas in the hallway, surrounded by smoke, and scooped her up in her arms.
Minutes later, firefighters arrived and somehow contained the flames to the vacant apartment. Incredibly no one was injured other than Rivera’s minor burn.
“Anytime you have a working fire like this and you walk away without injuries, that's a good thing,” said Hartford Fire Deputy Chief James Errickson.
Despite firefighters’ quick work, heavy smoke and water damage forced seven families from their home. The apartments on the top floor including Rivera’s were hit especially hard.
The city and American Red Cross will provide shelter for the families.
Rivera’s neighbors are calling her a hero, but she feels like she just followed her instinct to help.
“It's just a fire you know, we got to do what we got to do to help out our neighborhood and keep everybody safe, especially kids,” Rivera said.
Fire investigators are still trying to figure out exactly what sparked the flames.
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