College Park man saves 16 neighbors from apartment fire

A College Park resident is being credited with saving the lives of his neighbors from an apartment fire early Friday morning.

Firefighters were called to the Old Town Villa apartments on Godby Road around 4:30 a.m. Upon arrival, they found heavy flames coming from the third unit inside the complex.

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"The individual who lives in the unit that caught fire is out of town," said Fire Chief Wade Elmore.

The fire got up into the attic of that unit and quickly spread both ways.

"We had an individual that was outside that had knocked on all doors and got everybody out safely," said Chief Elmore. "I'm thankful for him."

Chief Elmore said a section of the complex was destroyed, but three families managed to get out safely with no reports of any injuries. It was all thanks to Mike Cox.

"I was just pulling in, I didn't really think anything of it," Cox told FOX 5. "But when I saw the flames coming through the window I ran to my friend's door and told her to come outside and grab her kids."

Cox said he knocked on windows and kept banging, telling everybody to get out of their homes.

Resident Sherrell Tucker lives in an apartment at the end, two doors down from where the fire started. She told FOX 5 she woke up to Cox knocking on her door. She then rushed out with her six children as fast as they could.

"I'm glad the neighbor ran over and got everybody out, because if he didn't we wouldn't known anything," Tucker said. "Everybody was asleep.

Tucker said once they were outside she saw flames shooting out of the building. She said it took firefighters more than two hours to battle the blaze.

"Now we have nowhere to go," Tucker said.

Carolyn Horton lives next door to the unit that caught fire and also told us she woke up to the Good Samaritan pounding on her door. She said she lost everything, but is thankful to be alive.

"Thank you, Mike," Horton said as she hugged Cox on camera. "You saved our lives."

Cox said he had his brother help him knock on doors.

"I'm just glad to see everybody was alright," he said.

Fire officials are now investigating what caused the fire. They said they are also investigating the reports of smoke detectors not going off when the fire started.

The Red Cross has responded to the scene to assist the 16 people who are now without a place to live.