Ghanaian-born soldier Emmanuel Mensah has been declared a hero after losing his life while saving his neighbours during Thursday night’s New York City fire that killed 12 people including four children.
The 28-year-old Army National Guard soldier who had returned home for the holidays helped evacuate nearly a half-dozen people and died while returning to save more, his father, 62-year-old Kwabena Mensah, who lives a few buildings away from the inferno told the New York Post.
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He added that Private Mensah who was staying with some friends in the five-story apartment building near the Bronx Zoo “helped his roommate’s wife and children, they were trying to come out to the stairs and he stopped them. He told them to come out the window . . . Then he went in and tried to rescue people out.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio eulogised the brave soldier who had just finished basic training in Georgia and was scheduled to move to Virginia.
“Private Emmanuel Mensah was a first generation immigrant, a soldier, and a New Yorker. He gave his life rescuing his neighbors in the Bronx fire. His heroism exemplifies the best of our city. Rest in peace,” Bill de Blasio said in a tweet on Saturday.
Private Emmanuel Mensah was a first generation immigrant, a soldier, and a New Yorker. He gave his life rescuing his neighbors in the Bronx fire. His heroism exemplifies the best of our city. Rest in peace.
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) December 30, 2017
Emmanuel Mensah and his family moved to the United States some six years ago from Ghana. His father said he wanted to join the army when they arrived but he refused until recently.
The fire is described as the deadliest since the 1990 Happy Land Social Club fire that claimed 87 lives a few blocks away. It is reported that the fire was started by a three-year-old boy playing with a kitchen stove in one of the flats.