RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Just before 9 p.m. on May 11, firefighters were called to a Raleigh apartment complex where a fire had over taken two stories of a building. Of the building’s 16 units, 14 were damaged by fire. A total of 17 people were displaced in the fire.

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City of Raleigh

Among them were Sandra Kelly and Andres Soto who were taken to the hospital with smoke inhalation. They had tried to escape the fire but were ‘hit with a wall of smoke’ when they opened up their second-floor apartment door, the city said.

The couple had barricaded themselves in a bathroom and called 911. When they heard rescue crews, the couple started banging on the door and screaming to get their attention.

After their rescue, the couple’s son told the city, “I can’t express my appreciation enough for saving my parents. Without them, I don’t know what I’d do. The firefighters are heroes.”

Raleigh Fire Department Battalion Chief Richard Siebel called the incident, “one of the most dramatic rescues” he’s seen in his 26 year career.

“Every firefighter worked hard and never quit to extinguish the fire with challenging construction layout,” said Siebel.

Kelly and Soto met their rescuers two weeks after the fire.

“I asked God to send us an angel and he sent us these firefighters,” Kelly said after meeting the firefighters.

Among the rescuers they met was firefighter Dylan Short.

“It’s a blessing to meet them and see them. I’m so thankful we got them out. It was a team effort for sure,” Short said.

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City of Raleigh

The fire broke out in northeast Raleigh at The Oaks apartment complex in the 3900 block of Water Oak Drive, just off N. New Hope Road. About 75 firefighters responded to the call, officials said.

The Red Cross said it was helping the 17 displaced people following the fire with financial assistance for needs such as shelter, food, relief items like toiletries, health and mental health services.