Officers catch 9-year-old girl after she jumps from burning home in Mahwah

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MAHWAH, N.J. -- A 9-year-old girl was rescued Tuesday afternoon when she jumped to escape a burning townhouse in Mahwah and into the arms of awaiting police officers.

It was shortly after 2 p.m. when flames were seen shooting from the windows of the Society Hill Village condo complex. As fire units arrived, the child, who was home alone, was spotted standing on the balcony as flames were racing toward her.

Mahwah fire chief Thomas Loreto's stomach is "still in a knot" after the miraculous rescue.

"She was in a lot of danger and the smoke was on top of her," Loreto said. "We were grabbing the ladders, we were getting ready to get her when she climbed over and jumped into the police officers hands."

The girl landed safely in the outstretched arms of a Mahwah lieutenant and sergeant. Aside from this scary incident, there were no reported injuries as a result of the blaze.

The fire destroyed six apartments but a built-in safety wall prevented it from being much worse, fire officials said.

More than 150 firefighters, some from half a dozen surrounding communities, helped contain the fire at about 5 p.m.  Officials said the fire appeared to start on a top floor apartment belonging to an elderly lady who was cooking.

The exact cause of the fire is under investigation.