More than a half-dozen apartment residents jumped to safety as flames engulfed their three-story building near Atlanta and left them no other escape path, authorities said Tuesday.
The blaze broke out at 2310 Fairington Village Drive in Stonecrest at about 2:50 p.m. on Friday, injuring 18 people and leaving all residents of the building's 12 units homeless, DeKalb County Fire Capt. Dion Bentley said.
"Thankfully no one was killed," Bentley told NBC News. "The main thing that happened was that it was during daytime hours. People are alert. At night people are sleeping and that's when you have a much more tragic result."
Jacquill Moss, 28, said he was in the shower when he heard screams and saw smoke.
"It was coming from beneath us and on top of us at the same time," he told NBC affiliate WXIA.
With the hallway filled with smoke, Moss, five cousins, his mom and 78-year-old grandmother all ended up in a bedroom with only one possible way to safety: their third-floor window. He took cell phone video of some of the frantic moments, shouting "go, go go" at family members.
"She was so afraid that she started shaking and she passed out as I was holding her. That’s when I had to go to the window carrying her, while trying to get the fire off my leg and everything," Moss said of his grandmother Agnes.
“Trying to get her out of the window when she’s unconscious and it’s three stories was very hard for me to do, but I knew I had to get her out of the house even if I had to stay in the house."
With flames fast approaching, Moss said he had no other option but to drop his prone grandmother out the window.
"The fire was already on my back," he recounted. "The roof was on fire, the window, the top of the window sill was on fire at that point and we were the last two in the house. So, when I dropped her, when I let her go."
Moss said he fractured his back and suffered burns to his hands and legs. His grandmother broke her back and tested positive for Covid-19 in the hospital, according to Moss.
It took more than 30 firefighters nearly an hour to control the blaze, Bentley said.
Firefighters thanked building resident William Cox "for his heroic efforts."
The cause of the blaze was still under investigation on Tuesday.