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Girls jump to flee fire at New Jersey dance studio

Watch Video: Young girls jumping down a dance studio in New Jersey as fire tear through

Edgewater Police Sgt. James Dalton and bystander Tony Nehmi worked together to climb a ladder on the first story roof as thick black smoke and flames came shooting out the side of the building.

When the teacher opened the door to the studio's only exit, they immediately saw the heavy smoke and fire, and "everyone started freaking out", she said. Some are seen attempting to climb down on ladders.

More than a dozen American girls fled a second-storey dance studio onto a balcony as a roaring fire engulfed their building, some dropping or jumping to the pavement as bystanders tried to rescue them with ladders. They didn't know what to do - the girls were trapped on the second floor.

"It was one of the bravest things I've ever seen", Mayor Michael McPartland explained of the girls.

By contrast, Nina Twomey said that Nehmi's and other good samaritans' swift action made a world of difference. "There's no room for any mistake".

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A group of young girls and at least one adult were huddled screaming on a second-floor balcony above a vehicle wash while flames raged out the windows just a few feet behind them, according to a short video posted to the Facebook group Life in Edgewater and later on YouTube.

The owner of the dance studio expressed thanks and gratitude to the first responders and good Samaritans who helped the girls escape.

The building housed a restaurant, dance studio, vehicle wash and auto body shop.

Five people were transported to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, and about 10 to 15 suffered minor injuries.

Twomey said that while it's unfortunate that the studio and the equipment inside were destroyed, she's "just glad everyone is safe" and that "there were no bad injuries".

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