Firefighters Make Heroic Rescue at Castleton Corners Blaze

SI Advance - December 06, 2011

by Ryan Lavis

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Firefighters won a race against time to pluck a Castleton Corners resident from his burning home early yesterday.

Over 12 units and 60 firefighters responded to the all-hands blaze at 261 Utter Ave. around 1:30 a.m.

When firefighters arrived, they were faced with flames racing through the living room of the one-story home and reports of a person trapped inside.

Firefighter Christopher Pillarella, of Ladder Co. 83, went ahead of the hoseline and searched through the smoke for the resident, who was found laying unconscious in a hallway with burns on his hand and face.

Pillarella grabbed the man's arms while another firefighter took him by the legs, as the two carried him to safety.

Officials could not immediately confirm the man';s name, but confirmed he was in his early 60s. Property records list the homeowner as Andrew McGee, a criminal defense attorney. A neighbor on Utter Avenue also confirmed the name. "This is what we train for. Everyone else would have done the same thing," Pillarella said, who noted that this was his first rescue during his seven-and-a-half year career.

"Once I found him, it was a team effort getting him out,"; Pinarella said.

The man is currently in stable condition at the burn center in Staten Island University Hospital, Ocean Breeze, FDNY officials said. He suffered from smoke inhalation and first- and second-degree burns on his body.