An Army National Guard soldier who was home for the holidays died while saving people in the massive fire in New York City which claimed 12 lives Thursday night.

The 28-year-old, Emmanuel Mensah, had immigrated to the U.S. from Ghana five years ago and recently graduated from boot camp after joining the U.S. Army National Guard sometime last year.

While visiting his home in the Bronx borough of New York City for the first time since joining the Army, Mensah tried to rescue his neighbors from the massive fire that engulfed his apartment building where he lived with family friends.

Authorities said he never emerged back out of the building and died of smoke inhalation.

“He brought four people out,” said his uncle, Twum Bredu, told the New York Times. “When he went to bring a fifth person out, the fire caught up with him.”

His father, Kwabena Mensah, told CBS2 that after checking area hospitals to find his son, he was not surprised to learn that his son died while trying to help people.

“That’s what I think, because it was in his nature,” the father said. “He wanted to help people out.”

Officials said the massive apartment fire was caused by a toddler playing on a stovetop. Twelve people including four children died as a result.