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Residents in apartment fire tell story of survival: 'This is just us waiting to die'

Body camera videos show Eustis police officers run into burning home

EUSTIS, Fla. – Body camera video from two Eustis police officers show the rescue of four people trapped in an upstairs apartment during a fire early Saturday. 

According to Eustis police, the call came in at 6:16 a.m. for a fire at the Grove Street home. 

Thomas Rogers, one of four people in the upstairs apartment, was awake and smelled the smoke first. 

"I opened my door and it's full of white smoke in the hallway," Rogers said, standing outside the now charred two-story home. "I walked downstairs to our front door, opened it and the porch has flames taller than I am."

He closed the door, went back upstairs and woke up his three friends who were asleep. At the time, they were trying to come up with a plan on how to escape. 

"While we were standing there, we realized, this is just waiting to die," Rogers said.

They chose to use a chair to smash a window and climb out on the roof. By the time they climbed out, Eustis police officers were already there. 

"I was surprised how fast they got there, because like, right when we smashed the window and stepped out, they were there," said Nick Tangusso, 21. 

Body camera videos worn by two officers released Monday show how they ran toward the flames, kicking in doors, coughing through smoke and searching through the empty downstairs apartment. Eustis police said the three people living downstairs had already escaped.

"Anybody in here?"  the officers can be heard yelling through the smoky rooms. 

Outside, they helped the four friends off the roof by ordering them to jump onto a car below to get down. Angelina Carnecchia, 22, said she froze. In the video, an officer can be seen jumping onto the car and grabbing her to bring her down. 

"Seeing someone literally pulling me out of a building that's burning ... you realize that's what happened. It was really serious and really scary," she said. "I want to try to reach out to them and thank them because without a doubt, they saved our lives."

Other than a few scratches from the fire, everyone was able to get out OK. The Eustis police officers who responded were also uninjured. 

The four friends, all under the age of 25, lost everything they own. If you'd like to help them in their recovery, click here

The State Fire Marshal determined the fire to be accidental, as a result of a tenant improperly discarding a lit cigarette outside the home. 


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