The mayor of Grenoble has paid tribute to the "heroic" actions of a group of people who caught two children jumping to escape a fire in their third-floor apartment in the French city on Tuesday afternoon.

Dramatic footage of the incident has been widely shared online, showing smoke billowing from the window of the apartment in the Villeneuve district of the city, before the children make their escape.

The children, aged three and ten, were encouraged by onlookers to make their escape from the blaze.

As a group of local residents waited below to break their fall, the older boy first lowered his brother out the window, before dropping him into the arms of the rescuers.

He then suspended himself from the window before falling too.

The group successfully broke the boys' falls. Two of the men suffered broken arms in the rescue.

The boys, along with 17 other residents of the apartment block, were reportedly taken to local hospitals to be treated for smoke inhalation.

The causes of the fire are not yet known.

Writing on his Facebook page, Grenoble Mayor Éric Piolle said: "I would like to congratulate the inhabitants of Villeneuve who made a heroic rescue of two children trapped in their burning apartment today.

"Hand in hand, they allowed the two little ones to get out unharmed from this drama."

He added that the rescue was typical of the traditional solidarity shown in Grenoble, and the community spirit present in Villeneuve.