A fire in the Oakview Apartments in the 1300 block of Harrow Lane claimed three lives early Tuesday morning.
Flames lit up the dark sky as the fire spread quickly through the building.
"Oh it was blazing. Really blazing," said witness Eric Reed. "I mean we could see it from across the street."
An adult and two children were trapped inside the building, and later died. One man had to jump to safety from a window, and child was also dropped to safety out a window. Others in the complex woke up to screams.
"You look out the window and you just see light," said witness Deborah Polk. "He was screaming get my family out of the house. So I told my mama we need to get out of the house."
It took firefighters more than half an hour to get the fire under control, but not before three firefighters were hurt when they fell through the floor.
"It was an extremely dangerous fire, burning from the bottom up," said Memphis Fire Department Division Chief John Pillsbury. "It had burned out the floor below them."
In the light of day, residents could see all that had been lost, and they took the time to stop and pray, for the two children who many said filled a crime-ridden neighborhood with laughter.
"I always remember that every time we came over here they would just come running," said Pastor B.W. Burnett, the victims' minister. "They always liked to be hugged.
The firefighters were taken to Methodist University Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. A paramedic was also injured when she was hit by an on-looker's car. She too is expected to recover, as are the two people who jumped to safety.