Girl who jumped from balcony in Edgewater dance studio fire recounts escape

EDGEWATER, New Jersey (WABC) -- One of the girls who jumped from a balcony as a fire consumed their dance studio in New Jersey is sharing the details of their harrowing escape.

Literally dangling from a second floor balcony with the flames inching closer and closer, the ordeal in Edgewater Monday night was captured on camera.

14-year-old Samara Lee was in the middle of her vocal lessons at Professional Arts Academy along Old River Road when the smell of something burning suddenly disrupted her class.

"When we opened the door it was like a lot of smoke coming in and my dance teacher opened the door and it was like fire," she said.

As panic began to unfold she was joined in the hallway by six other students and two instructors, but the intense inferno quickly cut off their exits.

"I was just scared, like really scared, and I couldn't see anything cause it was like a lot of smoke," said Samara.

Navigating through the dense smoke and inching flames, the adults funneled the children toward a balcony. Gripping videos show the desperate attempts to help the girls down with ladders, but they just weren't long enough.

"The people down were just screaming at me, they were like, oh jump jump, but I'm like there's nothing, no ladder anything, but then they brought the ladders," said Samara. "I couldn't reach it so when I tried reaching it it fell over."

Unable to get a sure foot on the ladder Samara had to trust and just let go. Shortly afterward another moment of panic ensued when two girls were unaccounted for.

When everyone was finally safe outside, the girls only suffered minor injuries. Returning to the scene Tuesday, studio owner Maureen Staub thanked the Good Samaritans and first responders who risked their lives.

"Want to thank everyone for their support and prayers," she said. "Yesterday was a dark day but we're show people and the show must go on."

The exact cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

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