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Update: St. Paul teen pulls neighbor from burning house; fire ruled arson

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Two brothers were pulled from a St. Paul house fire early Monday, one of them by a quick-thinking 16-year-old.

By the time firefighters arrived at the burning duplex on the 400 block of Goodrich Avenue around 12:30 a.m., a teenaged neighbor had already climbed through the roof to rescue one of the men inside, the Pioneer Press reports. Firefighters then pulled the second man to safety.

Both men were being treated at Regions Hospital with one reportedly in critical condition, the other in serious condition.

The Pioneer Press says Ricardo Martinez ran out of a nearby house barefoot when he heard screams coming from the burning home and used a ladder to climb to the roof. Martinez tells the newspaper he'd taken off his shirt and tied it over his head to serve as a mask from the smoke.

"I heard people inside, so my first instinct was to see if I could help anyone," Martinez said. He added: "I'm just glad I did what I did. What would've happened if I didn't do anything?"

Before firefighters arrived Martinez also tried to save the second man, telling WCCO: “I’m trying to reach for him, yelling his name, like ‘grab my hand!’ But he couldn’t hear me and then his voice faded away. And then I had to get out because there was too much smoke.”

KSTP says investigators later determined the fire was caused by arson. Assistant Fire Chief Jim Smith told the station the fire started in a back porch area and spread to the garage.

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A neighbor told the Pioneer Press the two men – who were reportedly in critical and serious condition at Regions Hospital – were brothers.

While the rescues were taking place, gas and oxygen cylinders in the detached garage continued to set off small explosions, reports say. One of the cylinders had launched into the air after exploding and landed across the street, the Pioneer Press says.

Firefighters fought the blaze for more than four hours. Smith told KSTP the house was destroyed by the fire. According to the Pioneer Press, the blaze melted the vinyl siding on a home next door.

Officials told the Pioneer Press that all the gas and oxygen cylinders in the garage appeared to be legal.

More photos from the fire:

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