Hero Maintenance Worker Saves Family from Fire in Chester

CHESTER, Pa. (WPVI) -- When he woke up at around midnight Tuesday, Norman Bantum-Green, Sr. was going with his gut... literally.

"I got up to get a snack, basically being greedy," said the head of maintenance at Chester Square Apartments in Chester, Pa.

He'd walked to a nearby convenience store when he heard the faint beep of a fire alarm. That lead Bantum-Green to check in his neighbor's window.

"At first, I didn't see too much," he said.

But then, Bantum-Green went with his gut again and took a second look into the apartment window.

"When I looked again, I saw flames on the couch," he said.

That's when Bantum-Green, who's been maintenance director for 14 months, sprang into action. He went to the apartment complex's office to get keys to the burning apartment. He also grabbed his fire extinguisher all while calling 911.

"She kept saying 'don't open the door,'" he recalls of the 911 operator.

But, you guessed it, Bantum-Green had to go with his gut again.

He unlocked the door and started using his fire extinguisher to spray out the fire. He says he extinguished the flames and tried to get to the family that was inside: a woman a man and three children... all of them were asleep.

Bantum-Green says the smoke was too thick to get to any of them upstairs.

That's when he yelled to the mother to drop her children from the second-story window.

"I said 'I'm tall, I'm not going to drop them,'" he says.

After initially refusing, the frightened mother eventually dropped two of her children into Bantum-Green's waiting arms. That's when he started feeling the effects of the thick smoke.

A neighbor ran inside to rescue the third child. Fire officials say they all went to the hospital with minor injuries.

Bantum-Green also went to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

Looking back, he knows that what he did was dangerous. But with the entire family surviving the fire, he's glad he went with his gut.

"I made a foolish decision (to go inside)," he said. "But in the end, was it worth it? I think so."
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