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McKINNEY, Texas -- McKinney police officer Rene Fernandez said there was no time to think, only to act.

He was only a block away when he saw fire and smoke coming from the Virginia Oaks Apartments on Tuesday morning.

I seen the smoke, and knew something wasn't right, Fernandez said.

When he arrived, residents started to gather outside in the parking lot. But everyone was not accounted for.

They were yelling, 'There are babies inside!' Fernandez said.

The officer moved quickly and ran up the staircase to the second floor. He was told a mother was inside an upstairs apartment and there were two twin girls inside. Fernandez ran into the building in heavy smoke and kicked down the door.

All I heard was, 'boom,' and he told us to get out, Tamikah Smith said.

She ran out of the building, and Fernandez followed her with both children in his arms.

Fortunately, we got out, Smith said. I just want to give him a big hug.

Smith and her four kids are now at Stonebridge United Methodist Church in McKinney. It is where Red Cross has given them shelter.

That day, Fernandez helped several residents get out of the burning building.

I'm just fortunate I was in the right place at the right time, he said.

Fernandez said this is why he's in law-enforcement -- to serve. He also gives a lot of credit to his training and said any one of his colleagues would've done the same thing.

Nobody was hurt in that fire that displaced roughly 40 residents.

The initial call to public safety was that a mattress was on fire. But there's no official word on what started it.

E-mail jpanicker@wfaa.com

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