An Army soldier who had come home for the holidays died saving lives Thursday after an apartment fire broke out in the Bronx.
Emmanuel Mensah, 28, returned home to New York City for the holidays after finishing his basic training in Georgia when a fire broke out at a five-story apartment complex near the Bronx Zoo.
The fire, which had been caused by a three-year-old playing with a stove, killed 12 people and injured 14 others, but the death toll could have been higher had it not been for Emmanuel’s heroic efforts.
The Army soldier rescued several people before the blaze took his life.
“That’s his nature,” his father, Kwabena Mensah, 62, told the New York Post.“He was trying to help people out from the fire, and unfortunately, he lost his life. He tried to do his best.”
The father said rescue workers recovered Emmanuel’s body from another apartment on the same floor as the apartment he had been staying with friends before the fire.
Emmanuel’s father said the young patriot dreamed of becoming a soldier after his family emigrated to the U.S. from Ghana about five or six years ago.
“When he came here he just said, ‘Dad, I want to join the Army,’ ” Kwabena recalled. “At first I didn’t agree with him, but I decided that’s his choice.”
The Bronx fire is the deadliest on record in New York City in more than 25 years.