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Decorated Army National Guard soldier, Emmanuel Mensah was among the 12 victims in Thursday night's deadly New York City apartment fire. He was home from deployment for the holidays.

The New York Times reports that Mensah passed away due to smoke inhalation while saving people from a burning apartment building that neighbored his own residence.

"He brought four people out," his uncle Twum Bredu explains. "When he went to bring a fifth person out, the fire caught up with him."

"That’s his nature," his father Kwabena Mensah told the New York Post. "He was trying to help people out from the fire, and unfortunately he lost his life. He tried to do his best. He 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."

Emmanuel Mensah, 28,​ as a solder in the Army National Guard was awarded a medal for marksmanship.​ He had plans of one day joining the military police.

CNN reports that the fire was started when a 3-year-old boy was playing with burners on a kitchen stove. The victims included an 8-month-old baby girl and her grandmother.

City officials have declared the incident as the deadliest fire in New York City in over 25 years.