Bravest save family of four

Were it not for the heroics of a handful of New York City’s bravest - who say they were just doing their job - fire might have claimed the lives of four family members in their Ozone Park home.
It took 50 firefighters an hour and a half on Tuesday, January 27 to bring the early morning blaze under control after a smoking incident engulfed the second floor of a 93rd Street apartment building in flames. The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) said firefighters on the scene rescued a family of four - two of whom were in cardiac arrest - from the third floor amidst “zero visibility.” All of the occupants of the second and ground floors were able to escape on their own, the FDNY said.
According to an FDNY spokesperson, the rescued family, which consisted of a mother and a grandmother - who firefighters and medics were able to resuscitate - and two children ages 10 and five, one of whom was in respiratory arrest, were taken in critical condition to local hospitals. Three of the four were ultimately transported to New York Hospital for hyperbaric treatment, the FDNY said.
Lieutenant Mike Fitall climbed three flights of stairs through thick smoke and rescued the grandmother, then turned her over to Lieutenant Tim Murphy and Firefighter Jason Griffiths who performed CPR, chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Griffiths, who has three years on the job, said at a press conference later in the day that the fire ranked among the most serious he has seen. However, Griffiths noted that he was prepared and was satisfied with the results of his and his fellow firefighters’ efforts.
“It feels excellent,” he said. “That’s why I joined the New York City Fire Department - to do exactly what we did today.”
Published reports identified the victims as Carlos Montero, Jr., his brother Dylan and their mother Veronica. Carlos Montero, Sr., the father of the children and husband of Veronica, is reported to have jumped from a third story window. The grandmother’s name has not been released.
Earlier in the day, before the FDNY released a cause of the blaze, Frank Lantigua, who lives next door to the scene, said speculation in the neighborhood ranged from a cigarette to a faulty electrical system. Meanwhile, others suspected arson.
“There were a lot of flames in back and smoke coming from every window,” Lantigua explained, recalling how he was the first person outside after fire trucks arrived.
In his four years on the block, Lantigua said, this was the first fire in an otherwise quiet neighborhood.
A crew moved through the building around 11 a.m., removing shards of glass and debris stuck in the window frames before boarding them up. A member of the window boarding crew said the fire was “pretty bad” compared to other fire scenes he had worked on.
Maria Rodriguez, walking by the charred building shortly before noon, said she had been concerned for the safety of her children who are students at M.S. 210, which is across the street from the scene of the fire. Nevertheless, Rodriguez said most students still attended school just hours after the inferno erupted.
Deputy Chief Paul Ferro, who presided over the Tuesday afternoon press conference, underscored the severity of the situation earlier in the day as the heroes of his department - a few of whom had endured minor injuries - looked on behind him. But Ferro, referring to the stable condition of all of the victims, added, “it looks like it’s going to turn out to be a great day for the city and a great day for the New York City Fire Department, thanks to these guys right behind me.”
- With additional reporting by Alicia Stypulkowski

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