Aug. 26--Glenn Thomas Jr. of Main Street, Stroudsburg, was passing by the three-story, one-family house at nearby Main and Second streets at about 12:45 p.m. Monday.
On his way to shop for groceries and listening to music from his headphones, Thomas noticed two people in front of the house and black smoke coming from the top floor.
"The people in front of the house were kind of running back and forth, like they didn't know what to do," he said.
One of the people was Zujei Rivera, a home care assistant to Lissette Sanabria, whose family had been renting the house since 2007.
"I was doing some housecleaning for Lissette when one of her boys came running down from upstairs, screaming, 'Fire, fire,'" Rivera said later as firefighters trained hoses on the house.
In the third-floor attic at the time was Amari Justice, Sanabria's older son's girlfriend. Justice's boyfriend wasn't home at the time.
"We knew Amari was in the attic," said a shaken Rivera. "The walls were on fire. I was screaming her name, but I couldn't get to her. So, the rest of us grabbed the (family's three) dogs and got out."
Thomas arrived as Rivera and others ran around to the house's Second Street side and saw Justice leaning out of the third-floor attic window as thick, black smoke billowed out.
"She was going to jump, and they couldn't find anything big enough to cushion her fall, so I positioned myself and told her I'd catch her," Thomas said.
Scott Blake of Stroudsburg, who was driving by at the time, said in a Facebook post that another man ran over with Thomas to catch Justice, but Blake said he himself was unable to get out of his car in time to join them.
"She jumped head first, and I caught her around the arms so her head wouldn't hit the ground," Thomas said. "It looked like she had a scratch on her arm, but otherwise she didn't look too badly hurt. She was just like, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.'"
Blake said, "I was able to hold her arm where she was bleeding from and tell her she was going to be OK until the EMTs got there. Thank God, she seemed like she will be OK."
Suburban Ambulance personnel later took Justice to Pocono Medical Center, but her exact injuries at the time were unknown.
Meanwhile, Rivera and Suburban Ambulance Executive Director Barry Albertson helped Sanabria, who is on disability after suffering a brain aneurysm, across Second Street, which emergency responders had closed to traffic by then. A Stroud Area Regional Police officer brought Sanabria's chair over so she could sit as she watched the fire destroy the top floor.
"Oh my God, there go the antiques," she said, putting her hands to both sides of her tearful face as she watched a gush of flames shoot out from the Lower Main Street side. "And my oxygen tank is still in the house."
Her family and friends stood on both sides with arms around her shoulders as her 14-year-old son and 4-year-old grandson hugged each other behind her, both sobbing. Relatives held the family dogs nearby.
Stroudsburg, East Stroudsburg, Stroud Township and Pocono Township fire companies responded, closing Lower Main, Second and McConnell streets and the Veterans Memorial Bridge between Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg boroughs.
"One challenge about responding to this fire was making sure we had adequate manpower and equipment," said Stroudsburg Assistant Fire Chief Charles Frantz. "The day's heat was another factor. We wanted to make sure our guys stayed fresh."
The Salvation Army arrived with bottled water for firefighters and Sanabria's family. Suburban Ambulance personnel had a blood pressure monitor set up for firefighters, while a tent was set up nearby so that heat-fatigued firefighters and the family could stand or sit in its shade.
"This just came outta nowhere," said bystander Aaron Thomas, a mechanic at the nearby Jiffy Lube on Second Street. "We were working, and one of our customers went over for lunch at Teddy's Tavern (across Second Street from Jiffy Lube). Then, all of a sudden, we saw people running across the street and everybody was like, 'Call 911!'"
Sam Lancia owns the house Sanabria and her family had been renting under the Section 8 low-income housing program. Section 8 officials annually inspect homes to ensure those homes are up to safety standards.
"The inspectors were here about a week ago and told (Lancia) the electrical wiring in the basement was bad and could cause a fire," Sanabria said.
Lancia said he had the wiring and other minor issues addressed and that Section 8 inspectors were satisfied upon a followup visit days later. He said he has always had working smoke detectors throughout the house.
"I'm just glad everyone made it out OK," he said. "I'm also thankful for that guy who happened by and caught the girl who jumped from the third-floor window. I'd like to know who he is so I can buy him a drink."
State police fire marshals are investigating the fire's cause.
Anyone wishing to help the displaced family can send monetary donations to the Red Cross, 410 Park Ave., Stroudsburg, PA 18360, 570-476-3800. The Red Cross cannot accept donated clothes or other items.
Copyright 2014 - Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa.