Firefighters pull off multiple rescues at apartment fire

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Firefighters will tell you they are just doing their job, doing what they’re trained to do, but thanks to their efforts, material things are the only thing lost in a fire near 32nd and Arbor earlier this month.

Firefighters rescued five people from a burning building there.

When Rudy Anciso's father got up in the night, he heard a beeping sound — a fire alarm — and thought must have been a fire on the stove.

He was wrong. The apartment building he lived in was on fire, and the fire department was on its way.

"When we got there, we could see smoke and flames," said Phil Lopez with the Omaha Fire Department. "On approach, we got more details: There were people possibly trapped in there. We were getting numbers... 1, 2, 3, 4, etc."

"It brings it kinda to another level," said Robert Fox with OFD. "Your response your adrenaline flows a little bit more, you know. You gotta kind of switch gears."

This group of firefighters made their way to the back of the apartment building. Rudy was in trouble — trapped inside.

"I was scared, and we were laying back down," he said. "Got up started smelling smoke, and I opened the door, and it was completely smoky.

"I didn’t know where all the fire was going to come," Anciso said. "I opened my door, and there was smoke everywhere. I went to the back, and the fire guy yelled 'Help!' "

"When we arrived around back, one person was hanging out of a window with smoke coming out yelling for help," firefighter Kyle Staudt said.

"We went up the stairwell and assisted because it literally took three of us to pull him through the window," firefighter John Mixon said.

"And then my brother got out, and then my father," Anciso said. "He was scared to death — he's a 74-year-old guy."

"We’re rescuing one person, and another guy comes out the window, so it ends up being three," OFD Capt. Jon McKenzie said.

Firefighters rescued three people from the back of the apartment and two from the front. At the same time, they were hooking up hoses and fighting the fire.

"They came up there and helped me out, and bless their hearts," Anciso said.

Furniture and other household items were lost in the fire, but firefighters said all 13 people in the building got out safely.

"The only way it's available for this — there's so many guys on-scene," McKenzie said. "It takes a lot of people to do everything that you need to do."

Fire department officials said after they rescued five people from the apartment, they went inside to conduct a search to make sure everyone was out safely.

The owner of the building says all of the displaced tenants will move to other properties that he owns.