Section of Burning Brownstone Falls on Top of Firefighters

NY Post - March 06, 2018

by Joe Marino, Yaron Steinbuch, Abigail Gepner and Tamar Lapin

Dramatic video shows a section of a burning apartment building in Brooklyn tumbling onto firefighters, injuring one critically, as they poured water on the inferno.

Four firefighters were injured in the conflagration, which began about 12:30 a.m. Monday at 667 Jefferson Ave., a three-story brownstone where flames shot out of the second and third floors, officials said.

About 140 FDNY personnel in 33 firetrucks responded, an FDNY spokesman said. Several of the smoke-eaters had converged on the building’s staircase as the flames grew larger when a large piece of the roof collapsed onto them.

“The cornice of the house fell in the front yard and hit about 15 firemen who were in the front yard, as well as the stoop,” said next-door neighbor Jamal Stevenson.

Another neighbor, Jerbean Gilkes, said the incident added to the already full-blown chaotic scene.

“When it fell, it went right down on them. There were so many of them in that area. They were scampering, they went running but it was too late,” he said. “It was like chaos because then they had to rush and yell for medics.”

Of the four injured firefighters, three were transported to Kings County Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.

The three-alarm fire in Bed-Stuy enveloped all three floors and the cockloft of the brownstone before spreading to adjacent buildings. The flames were brought under control about 3 a.m. Monday.

Stevenson, 59, said he woke up and went outside to see “the whole house was engulfed in flames.”

“The flames were coming out of the roof as well and if you were standing right by the trees … you felt the intensity of the flames from the house,” Stevenson said. “Heavy thick smoke — definitely choking — bellowing out of the roof.”

Gilkes, who’s lived on the block for 25 years, said that as soon as he smelled smoke he rushed over to wake up his friend, who lives in 665 Jefferson Ave., an adjacent building that had to be evacuated.

“Instantly I was on the phone trying to call her… at that point it was all black and smoke mostly,” the 56-year-old teacher said. “For me it was traumatic — she’s a very good friend and I know her well… It was really devastating to see this fire close to her.”

Gilkes’ quick thinking most likely saved his friend, also a teacher, her husband and their granddaughter, who were all fast asleep during the blaze.

Ten residents were displaced but no civilians were hurt in the fire, which remains under investigation.

Additional reporting by Stephanie Pagones