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Man jumps into action to help rescue girl, neighbors during East Point apartment fire

The man known to people in the complex as "Uncle Top" sprang into action and risked his life to save his neighbors.

EAST POINT, Ga. — A fire tore through an East Point apartment complex Wednesday. It killed a little girl, and police said an adult, believed to be her mother, remains unaccounted for. 

11Alive spoke to the man who's credited with saving the lives of about a dozen people.

The entrance to get inside Brookfield Apartments off Washington Road remained closed for seven hours as a Thanksgiving Eve fire displaced seven families, took the life of a little girl, and now the frantic search for the girl's mother is on. 

The hum of fire engines filled the air outside the apartment complex as the sense of loss filled the heart of Ricardo Tolbert.

“I noticed smoke coming from the backside of D building, so I ran up there, I knocked on the door as hard as I could, and I said, ‘Get out! Get out! Fire! Fire! Fire!’” Tolbert said. 

The man known to people in the complex as "Uncle Top" sprang into action and risked his life to save his neighbors.

“I busted the window out, and I raised the window up," Tolbert said. "I yelled in there, and the baby raised her hand, and I snatched her out of there.”

Tolbert said he then tried to go back into the apartment to save the little girl's twin and her mother.

“I reached in, and I unlocked the door, and I went in to see if I could save anybody else," Tolbert said. "I couldn’t make it too far because of the smoke and the fire. I had to come out. I made three attempts.”

“It happened at the apartment to the left above me, and I wouldn’t be here, if he didn’t knock on my door," Aquannis Barber said.

Barber is another person who's alive thanks to the quick action of Tolbert, who he calls a hero.

“I opened it to him, and he said, ‘Get out of the house! The house is on fire!’ I go out and looked up, and the roof caught fire in no time, and everything just fell in," Barber said. 

The people who live at the apartments thank Tolbert for his selfless actions on Thanksgiving Eve as they pick up the pieces of what they used to call home. 

"Uncle Top was covered in black soot from the fire," Barber said. 

“Around over here in this circle, we all consider each other a family because if anyone needs anything, they can come to one another," Tolbert said. "We were there for each other.”

Tolbert said the little girl he saved is about five years old. A spokesperson for the East Point Fire Department said she's in the hospital being treated for burns.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, and the Red Cross is helping the displaced families.

This is a developing story. Check back often for new information.

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