A scorched South Las Cruces home displaced a family of four.
Thee blaze broke out at 1918 Gladys Drive around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
With three cats trapped inside the burning home, resident Banan Elhajj says she couldn?t believe a neighbor she hardly knows risked his life trying to save her pets.
“My bedroom window was like exploding or popping,? Elhajj said. ?Glass was just shattering everywhere.”
Smoke seeped out the roof. Elhajj says, watching flames engulf her house felt like a movie.
“I?ve never seen anything like that and the smell is so strong,” Elhajj said.
Elhajj made it out unharmed but with her three cats trapped inside the inferno.
?We heard a big ole pop,? neighbor Zac Espana said. ?And then the neighbor was knocking on our door.”
Espana says he was in his backyard with his son when his neighbor screamed for help.
“You never run into a fire or house like that so I was telling her get back with my son and I’ll try to do whatever I can do,” Espana said.
Elhajj says she rushed to Espana?s house. Espana then ran through her garage and kicked open the back door, where he found the cats as the room filled with smoke.
“It was completely full of smoke,? Elhajj said. ?He went in there and he tried and he says, ?they wont come to me, they’re scared,? and so I’m like, ?get out, get out,? it was getting real bad.”
Jason Flloyd, Las Cruces Fire Department Public Information Officer, says entering a burning structure to retrieve animals puts your life and the life of firefighters in jeopardy.
“We will take significant risks of our own lives to save people but not necessarily animals and property, Floyd said. ?It’s a different scale.”
of the three animals, one rescued, one lost, and another missing.
?I’m just glad everything turned out alright,? Espana said. ?She’s safe but it’s just a sad thing her house, the damage done – that’ll hurt somebody real bad ? where is she gonna go.”
The family of four says they will be staying with relatives.
Elhajj calls the efforts to save her cats, heroic.
Officials say the cause of the fire and estimated cost of damage have not yet been determined.