FORT WORTH, Texas — The fast-moving fire at the Antigua Village Apartments in Fort Worth Friday afternoon cornered Marena Vasquez and her four-month-old son, Ricky. They were home alone.
“I just see all the smoke coming in from the door and I tried to look through the peep hole, and it was so dark,” Vasquez said. “I tried to open it, but smoke hit me in the face.”
With no way out, she dashed to her bedroom.
“I took out the curtains and I picked up the blinds and opened up the window, and I looked out... and I just see flames coming out of the apartment,” Vasquez recalled. “I said, 'Oh my God!' and I yelled out, 'Help!'"
Her husband, Ricardo Vasquez Jr., and a friend — both maintenance workers at the complex — heard her screams.
They didn’t wait for rescue crews to arrive.
“I was so scared, you know; that's my family,” Ricardo Vasquez said. “I opened the door, kicked it, and ran to the last room, and I told one of the guys, 'Get the ladder!'”
Another worker, Antonio Olvera, also stepped in. He got into position under the second-floor window.
“I told her, 'Give me the kid!'” Olvera said in Spanish. “'Throw him to me! Hurry, throw him!'”
Marena Vasquez wrapped little Ricky in a blanket and prayed.
“I dropped him, and he caught him,” she said. “He's our angel, because if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't know what I do. I still would have been stuck in that apartment. “
Vasquez and her husband used a ladder to get out. She said all of the men who rescued her and her baby are heroes. They gave her the best gift this Christmas — the gift of family.
“We are all together,” she said. “None of us is in the hospital or injured or anything.”
Four families were displaced by Friday's fire. The apartment’s management relocated them to other units in the complex.
Fort Worth Fire Department investigators believe the blaze, which started in another unit, was sparked by unattended cooking.