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An apartment building at a complex in Fern Park is still boarded up from a fire in March, but on Monday, the Seminole County Fire Department honored a maintenance worker who jumped into action. FOX 35 News was the only station there to speak with him.

“I’m just watching everything burn down,” said a woman on a 911 call from March.

After 911 calls came in, firefighters rolled up to see a severe fire at an apartment complex, tearing through the breezeway, and blocking people from leaving their homes.

 “I just clocked out for lunch, and then I heard someone scream. They said ‘there’s a fire,’ so what I did was I ran. Then I made sure I started knocking on everyone’s buildings. Then I realized there was someone stuck on the second floor,” said one of the apartment complex’s maintenance workers Jonathan Cruz.

Instead of running away from the fire that day in March, Cruz ran toward it. “I jumped on the AC. I started yelling. They didn’t want to come out. I started yelling ‘come on! Come on!’ and they’re like ‘no I’m scared.’ I’m like ‘don’t matter. I’ll catch you. For sure, I’ll catch you.’ So when they jumped, I caught them,” said Cruz. He saved two people before firefighters even arrived.

Seminole County firefighters responded to an apartment fire in Fern Park on Monday, March 28, 2022. 

Seminole County firefighters responded to an apartment fire in Fern Park on Monday, March 28, 2022.

Seminole County firefighters responded to an apartment fire in Fern Park on Monday, March 28, 2022.

The Seminole County Fire Department heard about his heroics after they responded to the fire. “It’s really out of the ordinary that just a normal citizen has the opportunity to save a life in combination with the courage to actually do it. That’s what makes something like this so amazing. Most people, they see fire, they run the other way,” said Seminole County Fire Chief Matt Kinley.

The fire department arrived just a minute or two after Jonathan saved these people’s lives, but the fire chief says in a fire this severe, every minute counts. “That minute or two could have made it into the apartment and overtaken the people very easily with not only the fire but the smoke,” said Chief Kinley.

“It was real bad. If they didn’t come out, they were going to suffocate of smoke or something was going to happen,” said Cruz.

The Seminole County Fire Department honored Cruz with a Citizen Life Saving Award. The chief called him “extraordinary.”

“I’m a different breed, so you know, I got to help. It’s just how I was raised. No fear, you know? I’m glad everybody came out safe. I’m just glad everybody was safe and nobody was hurt,” said Cruz.

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