FOREST PARK, Ga. -- An early morning house fire claimed the life of one man who, according to neighbors, was trying to help his family escape the blaze.
Forest Park Deputy Fire Chief Matt Jackson stated the fire broke out around 2:18 a.m. on the 4600 block of Burks Road. A mother and five children, ranging from ages seven to 13, escaped by breaking the windows on the side of the house.
Two neighbors were present at the time of the fire and said they saw the father of the family rescue his family.
Jacob Stewart, one of the neighbors, said he heard glass breaking from the neighboring home and when he looked outside his window, he could see flames coming from the home.
"I opened my window, I saw that window right there in flames. By the time me and Stick got out here, the whole side of the house as on fire and fire coming out of the front door. We see that woman out here screaming. I see a kid over talking about, help. We go over there, there's like two of them out and then he's shoving them out the window."
Stewart and John Tumlin, the second neighbor, said they were not close to the family but they knew the father living in the home was a hard-working man.
Tumlin said he saw the all of the children and the woman were safely outside when one of the children said told him that the father was still inside the home.
"The little boy who was in the kitchen, he had a little cut, and that's the one that said, 'Hey, hey John, my daddy's over there. You got to save him or he's going to die!'"
But by the time they ran back towards the home, Tumlin said officials had arrived to the scene.
"He died saving his children. He's the real hero," Stewart said.
According to Glenn Allen from the State Insurance Commissioner's Office, a 30-year-old man was running back and forth rescuing individuals from inside the residence and did not survive himself.
"A heroic man and very lucky children," Jackson said.
The woman was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital for smoke inhalation, while the children suffered cuts and scapes. Jackson said a neighbor helped the victims escape.
Jackson said it does not appear the house had a working smoke detector. The fire, whose cause remains undetermined, started in the living room.
About half of the house was damaged by the fire, and the structure also suffered extensive smoke and water damage.
Jackson said the fire was under control within 10-12 minutes of the firefighters’ arrival. About 20 Forest Park firefighters battled the blaze.