While everyone was rushing out, they were rushing in.
Four school resource officers helped firefighters rescue people from a burning building Tuesday afternoon in Southeast D.C., rescuing three elderly people and a dog.
Two firefighters were hurt and one resident is in critical condition after a blaze erupted about 4 p.m. in an apartment building on the 1700 block of Minnesota Avenue SE.
Metropolitan Police Department Officers Juana Diaz, Charles Jones, Anthony Manley and Willie Tabor were on patrol at a nearby school, making sure children got home safely, when they heard people yelling for help.
"We was flagged down by citizens that was driving past," Jones said. "They directed us to the location where the fire was at."
With smoke and flames visible outside the three-story building, the officers went inside.
"It was very intense," Tabor said. "The smoke, as soon as we entered the building, it hit you right in the face."
D.C. firefighters arrived about five minutes later. One firefighter climbed a ladder to help residents on the third floor and shared oxygen with an elderly woman waiting for help.
The firefighter was overcome by smoke inhalation and rushed to a hospital, where he still was being treated as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Residents said they were grateful for the help.
"If God hadn't have sent them, I'd still be in there," Minnie Duckett said.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
The Red Cross was helping residents with housing and food.