Homeless man saves family trapped in Phoenix apartment fire

A man living on the streets jumped into action and helped save a mother and her kids from a raging apartment fire in Phoenix.
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 6:15 AM MST|Updated: May. 19, 2023 at 11:17 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A daring act of bravery from a man living on the street helped save a Phoenix family from an apartment fire early Thursday morning. Joe Hollins is being called a hero for what he did. The fire broke out just after 4 a.m. near 22nd Avenue and Indian School Road.

Claudia Jimenez and her two children were sleeping when her apartment burst into flames. “I went to the front door and opened it and the flames were already covering my front door. The whole stairs were on fire already,” she said. Neighbors started to bang on doors, trying to wake everyone up and get everyone out.

Jimenez said her family was trapped in their second-floor apartment. That’s when she ran to a back bedroom, opened a window and started screaming for help. “I started yelling, yelling, ‘Please someone help me! There’s a fire! I can’t get out! I need someone to help me,’ and that when I looked up and I see this gentleman coming and he’s like, ‘I’m gonna help you,’” said Jimenez.

Hollins camps out along a canal and saw the apartments next door catch fire, so he ran over to see if he could help. He heard the screams and rushed over. He told Jimenez to drop her kids and two dogs out the window, and he would catch them. “I actually tried to climb up the side of window and grab ‘em as far as I could. Grab one, set her down, grab another, set down. Get the dog, then she didn’t want to come at first, scared she would fall. Then I said, ‘I got you, don’t worry,’” said Hollins.

The fire broke out just after 4 a.m. near 22nd Avenue and Indian School Road

He successfully saved the entire family, helping terrified Jimenez and her 1-year-old daughter Valerie and 8-year-old daughter Natalie escape the burning apartment without serious injuries. “I really have no words. I will forever be thankful to him. To me, he was an angel. He was there when I needed, I looked around, he was only one around. Because of him we are alive and my daughters are safe,” Jimenez said.

When asked if he felt like a hero, Hollins had a simple response. “Anybody would do it,” Hollins said, adding he did what he had to do and was in the right place at the right time. He also said he was happy to help.

The damage from the fire was extensive. At least 10 people need a new place to live. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Jimenez and her daughters get back on their feet. Investigators are now working to determine what led up to the fire.