Black smoke twisted into the sky above Lawrence, Massachusetts, as a late morning fire Monday burned six people out of their home.
Jefte Mendez credits his little sister, Rebecca, with saving his life after flames torched three buildings on Milville Avenue. He said she was the one who told him to get out of the house.
"I'm so proud cause, like, wow, your little sister saved you," said Mendez. "Usually, it would be the opposite — the older one saving — but no, it was my little sister."
"I'm very happy that we are still alive," said Rebecca Mendez.
A garage took the brunt of the fire.
Cell phone video captured the moment it was consumed by black smoke and bright flames that were pouring from the seams.
"The owner [of the garage] is in the hospital, so he couldn't come and see what was going on with his property," said Mary Leger, who lives nearby.
Fire investigators are still working to determine how it all started.
"I don't really know what happened, as far as the fire beginning," said Lawrence Fire Chief Brian Moriarty. "We're still in the investigation phase. Just starting right now."
Moriarty said the garage appears to be a total loss, but the duplex where the six people lived can be repaired.
The Mendez's are thankful they will be all together as they move forward.
"That's the important thing, that we are still alive," said Rebecca Mendez. "It's OK if all of our things are damaged, but it's good that we're alive."