2 men hailed as heroes for saving kids from burning apartment

DES MOINES, Wash. - Two men are being hailed as heroes for saving two kids who had to jump from an 18-unit apartment building that was burning in a spectacular fire early Monday morning.

Amazingly no one was seriously hurt in the raging inferno, which broke out at about 3:30 a.m. Monday in the Sea Fox Apartments, 2616 S. 224th St.

As the fire spread, Alejandro Rodriguez ran onto his second floor balcony, looked up and spotted two kids dangling from their dad's arms on the third floor.

"They were pretty scared," Rodriguez said. "I held them up and they were shaking."

Rodriguez caught the kids and then climbed down to the ground floor and caught them again. Then his friend Waylon Uaki grabbed the two kids and rushed them away from the fire.

"I got the kids to the front, and kept them safe of course," Uaki said. Fire officials said both kids were OK, but one had a foot injury.

Most people in the building rescued themselves. Residents say fire alarms were installed just two months ago - which played a key role in alerting everyone to get out in time.

The fire has left 50 people without a place to live -- some because of smoke and fire damage; most because firefighters had to dump thousands of gallons of water on the building to put out flames.

Dena Brown said her friends on the first floor have been hit really hard.

"I heard it's 6-feet under water," she said. "They're in really bad shape."

Brown said her friend had just been diagnosed with a terminal disease.

"And then to have this happen -- they didn't have renter's insurance so it's a total loss," Brown said.

Fire investigators say while they have a good idea where the fire started, it could take days to figure out how it started. They also say many of the people who live here are lucky they got out alive, including two young kids thanks to Rodriguez and Uaki.

"Everybody in the situation should be called heroes," said one bystander.

The Red Cross is providing food and finding new homes for everyone affected.