Soldier visiting home died trying to rescue people from fire

A heroic U.S. Army National Guard soldier was among the dead in Thursday's tragic apartment fire in New York City.  28-year-old Emmanuel Mensah was home in the Bronx for the holidays when the fire broke out.

He is one of 12 people who died in the fire. Four of the victims are children.

Mensah's father says his son died trying to save others from the blaze. 

"He tried to do his best," Kwabena Mensah says with a tear in his eye, "Well, I think he was trying to do his best".

Neighbor Eunice Reed says he was always looking out for his neighbors and went back into the building several times to get terrified residents out to safety.

Mensah rescued at least six people but on his last attempt, he didn't make it out of the building.

The New York City Fire Department says a toddler playing with a stove started the fire.  His mother ran out with him and another child, leaving the apartment door open and allowing the fire to rush up to the other floors- trapping the residents.

A memorial to the 12 victims continues to grow outside of the building.  There is also an outpouring of support for the victims and their families.  Donations are being collected at a nearby restaurant.