ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta Now News at 10) — A major apartment fire in Brookhaven destroyed a building and displaced several families. Atlanta Now’s Valencia Jones spoke with neighbors and a man they’re calling a hero.

Families living at the Evergreen Lenox Park Apartments woke up to a nightmare Monday morning around 6:30 a.m., as flames engulfed one of the apartment buildings.

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Dexter Harris was just getting home. “I couldn’t believe it. It was shocking and surprising just to see the building going up in flames,” he said.

Former Assistant Property Manager Jamison Boykin got a call from his sister after she escaped from her apartment. “I started praying as I was driving. I said, ‘Please God, let everybody get out, and He did. He did exactly that,’” he said.

Neighbors are calling Yusuf Thorne a hero for rescuing people from the burning building. He described how he rescued a man and woman from one of the units. “They wasn’t answering the door at first, so I just went downstairs below them. I was able to get her out. I came back upstairs, I started beating on some more doors. I heard him trying to get out the door. It was locked. I was going to kick it down, but he eventually he just got right out,” he said. “We were running, getting more people out and, you know, we were able to get everybody out.”

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Everyone got out, except a beloved pet. “They got their dog out, but unfortunately, the cat didn’t make
it,” said Thorne.

The fire displaced an estimated 18 families. DeKalb Fire Rescue Captain Jaeson Daniels said it started in one of the units and quickly spread through the top apartments. “It started on the third floor, so it didn’t have that far to travel to get to the attic, so really saving the apartments on the bottom from fire damage,” he said.

As for the hero, he doesn’t really consider himself one. “Long as everyone is out of there, that’s what’s most important,” said Thorne.

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The Red Cross was there to help the displaced families. As of the afternoon, investigators were still looking into what caused the fire.