MANSFIELD -- Lakeeron Lane said he was inside his Arthur Avenue residence early Monday morning when he heard a man screaming.
"I came outside and I looked (across the street) and he was yelling, 'Help! Help! Help! Help! Help!'" Lane said, looking across toward 115 Arthur Ave., scene of a house fire that left five Mansfield residents hospitalized in critical, yet stable, condition.
All five residents, including two young children, were rescued from the burning home by Mansfield firefighters, who responded to the scene at 7:35 a.m.
All five victims were transported to OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital and then taken to medical facilities in other cities, according to Christina Thompson, media relations and communications manager for OhioHealth Mansfield.
Two firefighters were also injured battling the blaze and were treated at OhioHealth and released, according to MFD Chief Steve Strickling. One firefighter was burned and the other suffered heat exhaustion.
With fire spreading inside the house, blocking the door, Lane said he tried to help the screaming man through the window.
"I put the chair up by the window and I pushed the window up so he could try to get out," Lane said. "He's a big guy, so he couldn't get out by himself."
Lane said he was unable to help the man get through the window. He said the man was screaming that there were two children inside the home, along with others.
After firefighters arrived, Lane said he continued to try to help the man through the window.
"They went inside and pushed him out the window while I was holding him and pushing him down," Lane said.
Strickling said firefighters were rushing to the duplex when they were notified people were possible trapped inside. The chief said a man was hanging in the front window and a woman in a back window when firefighters arrived.
He said firefighters were able to extricate the man through the window and that the woman fell out of the rear window herself.
After gaining entry through the rear of the residence, Strickling said firefighters found three other victims, including the two children, who he said were likely between the ages of 2 and 6.
"There was a moderate amount of fire in the middle of the house, a lot of smoke and heavy heat," Strickling said. "As we were making the rescues, the fire was intensfying the entire time. But we were able to make the rescues and then we turned our attention to the fire and put it out.
"The first floor common areas are completely gutted," the chief said, adding that the bedrooms filled with smoke and moderate heat.
The fire was contained to the one building. Strickling said it was fortunate that the department had training scheduled for Monday morning, which meant additional staffing was available.
In addition, he said, the fire call came about 30 minutes after the shift change and some firefighters had not yet left their stations.
"We had extra people, otherwise we would have had a whole different outcome," Strickling said. "It shows what adequate staffing can do. This is why you need people."
Strickling and his department leaders gathered firefighters in front of the house for a huddle after the emergency had been handled.
"It's very tough. It's tought to see anybody go through a fire. It's very tough when you have children that haven't lived very long yet to be subjected to that. Pulling kids out (of a fire) that are unresponsive is very tough on everyone," the chief said.
Strickling said the cause of the fire remains under investigation