Soldier home for Christmas died saving lives in New York apartment fire
A soldier who died saving dozens of people’s lives in the New York fire on Thursday was on leave from army duty just for the holidays.
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Emmanuel Mensah, 28, had just completed basic training courses in Georgia before heading home for the holidays when the deadly blaze broke out in the Bronx.
Twelve people died in the fire, including Emmanuel.
His father, Kwabena Mensah, told how his son sacrificed his life to save others during the deadly Bronx apartment building fire and said his selfless acts were only of his ‘nature’.
The 62-year-old told PIX11: ‘They were telling me he was rescuing people out from the fire. That’s what caused (his death) … he doesn’t live in apartment one, he lives in room 15.
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The fire is thought to have been the deadliest since the 1990 Happy Land Social Club arson took 87 lives less than a mile away.
Mr Mensah added: ‘I understand when the fire was [going] he was trying to rescue…he had two or three people out.
‘He just came for the holidays. He helped his roommate’s wife and children, they were trying to come out to the stairs and he stopped them.
‘He told them to come out the window.. Then he went in and tried to rescue people out.’
Emmanuel’s body was recovered from another apartment on the same floor, the father said.
The 28-year-old had his heart set on becoming a soldier when the family moved to the US from Ghana five or six years ago.
Mr Mensah recalled: ‘When he came here he just said, “Dad, I want to join the Army”.
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‘At first I didn’t agree with him, but I decided that’s his choice.’
The fire is believed to have started by a three-year-old boy playing with a stove in his apartment.
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Seven women and five men are among the dead, of which five were children.
Kylie Francis, 2, Kelesha Francis, 7, and Karen Francis, 37, and Shawntay Young, 19, have been identified as some of the victims.
The five-alarm fire broke out shortly before 7pm at the building at East 185th Street and Prospect Avenue.
Investigators said a natural gas line may have helped to fuel the flames of the blaze that is the city’s deadliest in at least a quarter of a century.
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