Fire Engulfs Brooklyn Home, Five Injured Including a Baby Boy

NY Daily News - November 25, 2011

by Joe Kemp, Edgar Sandoval, John Doyle & Rich Schapiro NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Infant suffered cardiac arrest, revived at the scene

A fire engulfed a three-story Brooklyn apartment building Thursday -- setting up a dramatic rescue and revival of an 8-month-old boy.

Flames broke out at 12:15 p.m. on the top floor of the Park Slope brownstone on President St. near Fourth Ave.

The fast-moving fire trapped five people on the third floor -- twin sisters, their boyfriends and the baby -- forcing a badly burned beau to leap to a second-floor ledge.

By the time firefighters fought back the flames and rescued the others, the baby and one of the boyfriends, who is 35, were in cardiac arrest, authorities said. Both were revived at the scene and hospitalized in critical condition.

Rescuers removed the infant from the apartment and handed him off to firefighters Andrew Hartshorne and Neil Malone, who began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

"The baby was still alive but [he] took too much smoke," said witness Wilfred Rios. "[He] wasn't breathing too much."

"It was horrifying to see a baby like this," said neighbor Maddy Johnson.

FDNY Deputy Chief Kevin Woods said all five victims were expected to survive and credited the firefighters' fast response time -- 2 minutes and 27 seconds -- following a 911 call.

"If not for these efforts, this would have had different results," Woods said. "And that on this Thanksgiving Day, we are truly grateful."

The blaze began in a bedroom, where a mattress caught fire, a source said. When the occupants tried to move the mattress, the flames spread rapidly, trapping them in the bedroom, one official source said.

It was not clear how the mattress caught fire, but sources said the fire did not appear to be suspicious.

One half-naked man broke a third-story window and leaped to a ledge 10 feet below.

"I heard a lot of banging and glass breaking," said next-door neighbor David McKnight, 34. "I come out and see a man hanging from a ledge. He was cut and bleeding. He was screaming for help."

Angel Sazt, 27, a bystander who was visiting the area, was stunned by the horrific scene.

"There was smoke everywhere, coming out of the house," Sazt said. "There was a woman, she looked burned and bleeding, screaming for help."

"Then another man was sitting on a ledge without clothes. His face and body looked burned. He was bleeding all over."

"This is a tragedy," Sazt added, "especially on Thanksgiving."

The baby, Josiah Alexis, and the 35-year-old man were initially taken to Methodist Hospital and later transferred to New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center, where they were in critical condition.

One of the twins -- Jasmine Alexis, 20, the baby's mother -- suffered severe burns and was listed in critical condition at Kings County Hospital. Her sister, Justine Alexis, and a 21-year-old man were receiving treatment at Cornell's burn unit. They were listed in serious condition.

About 60 firefighters brought the blaze under control about 1:15 p.m. Sources said the fire did not appear to be suspicious.

Neighbor Elaine Evelyn said the twins grew up there and had moved away. "This is sad because they just moved back," Evelyn said.