DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — The smell of smoke woke Jason Brown, who nearly went back to sleep.
“Right when I went back down is when I heard, ‘Fire!’” Brown said. “Somebody was out there screaming.”
Neighbors at the Sable Ridge Condominiums along Abrams Drive in Northeast Dallas say the persistence of one man may have saved lives from a fire that destroyed a 30 unit building.
“Banging on doors…” Nakima Alexander recalled seeing him moving through the hall, yelling, “Everybody get out! Everybody get out! It’s a fire! Everybody get out!”
The way Charleston Tunson tells the story — he had no choice.
“I just had to,” Tunson said.
He said he had to stay behind until he knew his neighbors could escape.
“I just couldn’t live with my conscious to think they was down there burning,” he said.
Tunson said he happened to be awake, smelled smoke and saw flames that appeared to be coming from next door.
“I just snatched him,” he said, holding his three year old son, Azar. “Wrapped him up in a blanket real quick ‘cause the smoke was starting to come in.”
Autumn Martin had just dozed off when he she heard Tunson pounding on her door.
She opened the door to see him holding Azar, with large flames behind him.
“He threw his son at me and he said, ‘You and the kids need to evacuate. Get him. Get your kids. You need to evacuate’,” she said.
She told CBS 11 of the cuts on his hands he suffered breaking into a condo to make sure a mother and her two daughters could leave.
The blaze gutted the building, which was demolished hours later over fear it would collapse.
Dallas Fire Rescue estimates about 90 people were left homeless. However, no one suffered major injuries.
“I’m blessed I got out. I’m blessed my son got out. I’m blessed all my neighbors got out,” Tunson said. “Everything is gone, but we’re not gone.”