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Mother dies saving 5 kids from fire

A Louisville mother died saving her three small children and two nieces in an apartment fire.
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A Louisville mother died saving her three small children and two nieces in an apartment fire.

The blaze began just before 7 a.m. Thursday inside the 651 building of City View apartments on South 11th Street.

Fire officials said the kids were taken to Kosair Children's Hospital for smoke inhalation. All of them were upstairs when the fire began.

The mother tossed them out a window to a neighbor below, saving their lives but losing hers.

"She went away saving those kids," said Karey Hudson, a neighbor who helped save the children.

It's a scene Hudson never expected. He lives next door to what's left of the apartment and when he saw the flames this morning, he knew he had to help.

"We did what we could do. I know the mother let the last kid out before we didn't hear anything else from her," Hudson said.

Hudson and another man stood at the bottom of the apartment and caught each child as the mother of three and aunt of two dropped all five from her second-story window.

The coroner said 31-year-old Tomorra Finley died from smoke inhalation.

"We just started saying, 'Jump, I'll catch you. They know me. They're comfortable with me. If you jump, I'll catch you,'" Hudson said.

Officials said it's unclear exactly what sparked the fire, but said it began on the first floor of the townhome, near the back of the building.

"That room, it is a living room, but we are being told that it was being used as a sleeping area," Louisville Fire Department Capt. Salvador Melendez said.

Firefighters said Finley was on the first floor when flames broke out. Fire officials said she went to the second story after she heard the smoke alarm and rushed to save the children.

"I can safely say that if it weren't because of the working smoke alarms that the mother heard, we would've have had more than one fatality this morning," Melendez said at the scene.

News traveled fast to the Finley's sister, who learned her family member was taken to the hospital, but had lost her life saving all five of their children.

"She was a nice lady. I can't say nothing bad about her," Hudson said.

Hudson, who said the children he helped saved call him "Uncle Karey," assures he just did what he needed to.

"I'm not a hero. I'm far from a hero. The heroes are the men and women in uniform, my hero is God. There's more heroes. More people deserve to be heroes than me," Hudson said.

Finley leaves behind a 9-year-old son and 3-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. Her two nieces were 5 and 2.

Officials said an arson squad is working to determine the fire's cause.

About 30 firefighters were called out to battle the blaze.

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