FDNY Investigates Suspicious Fire That Killed Staten Island Man

NY 1 - February 10, 2017

by Anthony Pascale

City firefighters on Staten Island are investigating the cause of a three-alarm fire Thursday morning that claimed the life of a resident who became trapped in the flames. NY1's Anthony Pascale filed the following report.

The intense flames and thick smoke that engulfed a Post Avenue home left eight people trapped inside.

"It was a ball of flames," said resident Timothy Schroeder. "The whole front of that house was cherry red."

Schroeder says he left his apartment on the first floor at about 6:30 a.m. to go to a deli around the corner. He returned to find the house on fire.

"I went up on the porch. John was screaming," he said. "I couldn't help him."

Fire officials said that man didn't make it out alive. His twin brother was in critical condition. Neighbors say they lived together, both elderly and disabled.

"It's hard because I've been neighbors with them for over 20 years," said one neighbor. "It's just a hurting thing."

The FDNY says firefighters were able to reach the home in less than three minutes despite the raging snowstorm.

The quick response enabled them to rescue the other seven people inside, including at least two young children.

"It was a second alarm on arrival. There was a great deal of fire, met the firefighters when they got there. They made a very brave interior attack in the fire," said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. "A number of firefighters were injured, none seriously."

"We started trying to do whatever we could to assist," said one person at the scene. "It was, the whole building was in flames. In a few seconds, we saw a lot of fire trucks that were here on the scene, and that was a good thing."

The fire was labeled suspicious due to how fast it spread. Investigators were interviewing residents of the building and others living nearby.

The blaze was brought under control in two hours, but not before gutting the building.

"It's just difficult to work. It is difficult to see. It's slipping and sliding when you put a ladder up. It's very dangerous. It takes longer to get the hoses in place," said a firefighter on scene.

The Red Cross showed up to help those affected, including Schroeder, who lost everything he owns inside.

"At least I'm still here. I still got a job," he said.