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Updated Jun 27, 2013 - 4:45 pm

Neighbors save youngsters from Phoenix fire

PHOENIX -- A man and his teenage cousin were being hailed as heroes Thursday after they helped catch two frightened children thrown by their mother from a burning second-floor Phoenix apartment.

Justin Rose and 15-year-old John Gallup were out for a swim with friends just before midnight Wednesday when a fire began to engulf the complex about 150 feet away.

Rose told KPHO-TV he and Gallup ran over to see what was happening, and by the time they got there the fire was ``getting pretty bad.''

``Then we see a lady open a window and screaming, `Help! Help me!''' he said.

Rose, 24, said he and Gallup ran to the complex and told the woman to drop her children to them.

``We said, `We will catch you. Trust us,''' Rose said.

``I was thinking, `Help these people. They could die,''' Gallup told reporters.

Bianca Milton dropped her 3-year-old son first and then her 6-year-old daughter.

``I felt trapped. It was a mother's choice. It was something I had to do,'' Milton said Thursday. ``I was in mama mode.''

Rose and Gallup handed the children to Gallup's sister and another female teen.

Milton then began throwing down some of her personal belongings, including a laptop and cell phone, according to Rose.

Then, Milton suddenly jumped. But John Gallup said he was able to grab her upper body and cushion her fall and she suffered a minor scrape to her knee.

Phoenix Fire Department officials said six of the eight units in the apartment complex were destroyed by the blaze. The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

Rose said firefighters told him that the survival rate of a child falling from a second-story level was 30 percent to 40 percent without someone helping and 40 percent for an adult.

``If you were to take those odds and they would have just jumped, their chances of survival would be very slim,'' Rose said. ``She put her trust in us and we came through for her.''

``I trusted strangers to save my babies,'' Milton said. ``I didn't know what else to do. They're everything I have.''

Gallup was trying to take the hero talk in stride.

``It's the best feeling I've ever had, and ever will, most likely,'' he said.

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