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Firefighters say a fire spread quickly through the Creek at Brookhollow Apartments because it was built with combustible wood siding.
Justin Ross, his wife Britta and their 2-year-old daughter Lena were trapped inside their second-story apartment Tuesday morning as a fire ravaged their building at the Creek at Brookhollow Apartments in Arlington.
With their breezeway completely engulfed in flames, there was nowhere for the family to go but out on the balcony.
"We're standing on the balcony. I've got her under my shirt. I'm trying to shield her from the smoke, 'cause it was just billowing, and there's flames coming from the next door neighbors who's screaming, 'Save us, save us, save my baby.' It was just so terrifying," said Britta Ross.
Justin then jumped from the second-story balcony to the ground below and told his wife to drop their young daughter into his arms.
"He caught her. Thank God he caught her," said Britta.
Justin wasn't the only one performing heroic actions that day. Neighbor Paul Parunda also jumped into action to save those trapped inside.
"I was screaming, 'Please help us. Please help us,' and he came out of nowhere,"Britta said of Parunda.
"At the time, when I went to the back of the building, I saw a big burst of flames, and I was trying to ignore the flames, ignore the heat and get these people downstairs to safety," said Parunda.
Armed with nothing but a good set of hands, Puranda helped Justin catch Britta as she jumped. Then, he rescued another family by catching the husband, wife and their baby.
"We'd never met him before. It was a real blessing," said Britta. "He's an angel."
In all, five apartment homes were completely destroyed in the fire and 11 others sustained smoke and water damage.
The American Red Cross and the apartment complex are working with the 20 people affected to try and relocate them and provide them with food and clothing.
Firefighters said the fire spread quickly through the apartments because it was built with combustible wood siding.