CARTERET, N.J. -- She dreams of becoming a first responder one day, but her first call to action came this morning.
“My mother came flying downstairs, right through my bedroom door and she’s like, ‘Mish, you got to get up! You got to get them out! There’s flames!”
Marisa Jimenez lives around the corner from the home on Hagaman Street that caught fire before 5 a.m. this morning.
“I got up, threw sneakers on, and ran outside,” Jimenez said.
When she got out there, she saw something she says she never wants to see again.
“The entire back of the house was just completely covered in flames," Jimenez said.
Her father was already trying to get into the house, along with another man. They’d never learn his name, but he charged through the front door alongside them.
“It was like there was a black wall of smoke. You couldn’t really see much. It was extremely hot, it was uncomfortable. We’re going in, we’re coming out, we’re coughing.”
The 85-year-old woman was still inside, while her sons, ages 59 and 61, desperately tried to get back in. But they were struggling to breathe, after escaping from the fire themselves. Their mother, had apparently fallen behind.
“The fight that her two sons put up was absolutely outrageous. And I saw them not able to do much more. So then that’s where - it was like - we can’t leave her in here.”
Finally, they heard a woman scream and through the smoke Jimenez spotted a hand. Together, they pulled the woman and her family to safety across the street.
“And within 5 or 10 seconds, the windows just blew.”
First responders also arrived seconds later. Jimenez refused any medical attention at the scene and went to work. She says, she would do it all again in a heartbeat.
“Oh absolutely. Without a doubt. Without a doubt.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The elderly woman and her 61-year-old son were airlifted to an area hospital with severe burns and smoke inhalation. A neighbor said that the woman is currently in the intensive care unit.
Her 59-year-old son was treated at the scene.
The home was completely gutted by the flames and it was demolished this afternoon.