The incident took place on Monday evening.
"I'm anxious about the fire under where I'm standing", Nehmi said of his thoughts during that moment.
But when the ladder tips over, several of the children leap off the balcony as the men yell "jump!"
The children can be seen throwing clothing and backpacks from the balcony as adults below race to get ladders in position and help them down. Only one of the guys came down the stairs, another girl stumbled, other slipped the pole under the balcony, and the rest just fell down.
"I was the one who called the fire department". "I knew there was no time", Nehmi said. "I want to get them off the roof immediately".
"Our first responders here, everyone, did a wonderful job getting those kids out, getting the building evacuated and getting the fire contained", Edgewater Mayor Michael McPartland said.
A video shows the girls screaming as they escaped from the second story balcony while rescuers tried to help with ladders. Some children are seen jumping onto the ladders, and, eventually, the people on the balcony are forced to fall 10 feet to the ground below.
The building on Old River Road also houses a hookah lounge, auto body shop and vehicle wash.
"Five people have been transported to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries", said Edgewater Fire Chief Steve Curry from the scene.
Remarkably, no one was seriously hurt, though about 15 children were treated for minor injuries.
Fire officials are investigating the cause of the fire.