Marines Ran Into A Burning Building To Help Rescue Dozens Of Seniors

Marines ran to help firefighters in their rescue efforts after spotting smoke from a few blocks away.

A group of U.S. Marines helped save the lives of dozens of seniors who were trapped in a burning apartment complex near the Washington Navy Yard.

According to NBC Washington, the Marines spotted the smoke coming from the Arthur Capper Senior Apartments building on Wednesday afternoon and ran the short distance from their barracks to assist firefighters in carrying the elderly residents out of their homes.

The blazing, four-alarm fire lasted for several hours last week, causing the roof to collapse and other extensive damage to the four-story building. But thanks to the teamwork of the emergency responders and the Marines who voluntarily joined in on the rescue efforts, the residents were able to be rushed to safety.

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"We're Marines. We saw a fire, we run towards the sign of danger," Capt. Trey Gregory, one of the Marines who assisted in the firefighting efforts, told NBC Washington's News4. "These are our neighbors, you know. We helped them out. They're always there for us, so we tried to do that for them."

None of the residents sustained life-threatening injuries, although 10 seniors were taken to the hospital to receive treatment for minor issues. The Marines' efforts were crucial in helping to ensure the safe removal of the seniors from their homes, including many in wheelchairs or on stretchers. According to ABC7's Kevin Lewis, three of the Marines helped carry a 73-year-old man downstairs and outside.

 "We were throwing people over our shoulders, carrying people any way we possibly could. Taking their chairs — whatever assistance they needed, we were there to help them out," Gregory told News4.

The marines weren't the only ones volunteering in the rescue efforts. As seen in a video posted by NBC Washington, other passersby in the area also reportedly spotted the smoke and ran toward the building with wheelchairs to help get the senior residents further out of the line of fire.

While the residents were able to escape the fire safely, many of them lost almost all of their buildings and have now been displaced. The D.C. Department of Human Services moved residents into hotel rooms, where they will stay for the time being, according to The Washington Post. The department will also work on matching residents with case-workers to help them find long-term housing and financial assistance.

Meanwhile, the fire marshal's office is set to launch an investigation into the apartment building and its alarm system, which was reportedly last inspected a year ago.

While the community has a way to go towards recovery, Gregory told News4 he's grateful to have assisted secure the safety of the building's residents. "I'm just appreciative that we could be there to helps somebody out," he said. "This is what we do — Marines, we answer the call every single time."

Cover image via Marine Corps photo / Cpl. Damon A. Mclean/Released.

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