NY Daily News - January 06, 2019by WES PARNELL , THOMAS TRACY and LARRY MCSHANE
Gutsy firefighters crawled through choking black smoke to revive a dying 7-year-old boy Saturday as they plucked a Bronx family of five from a high-rise apartment fire.
The unconscious grade-schooler was not breathing when found by firefighters on the floor of a locked bathroom in his family’s burning fifth-floor apartment. Smoke-eaters also found the boy’s mom and two siblings trapped inside a back bedroom, and rescued his woozy father from a darkened hallway.
The family patriarch was gasping for air in a 50-foot-long hall filled with blinding smoke, and he directed the first responders to the rest of the family still pinned inside their burning home.
“Pitch black,” recalled FDNY Capt. Theodore Conroy about the visibility. “We were on our hands and knees feeling around for bodies.”
Conroy went into the burning Baychester Ave. residence accompanied by Firefighter Joseph Aviles, who lugged the little boy down two flights to the third floor before stopping to perform CPR. The 7-year-old was overcome by smoke inhalation.
“You could see his eyes moving and his body responding,” said Aviles, the father of two. “All I could think about when I had this kid was my own children.”
Conroy then steered the mom and her two other kids, ages 5 and 15, to safety from the bedroom. All five family members were treated at Jacobi Medical Center after the dramatic rescue in the 24-story Co-op City building.
Sources indicated all were expected to recover — including the 7-year-old, who was initially listed in critical condition.
The fire appeared to ignite in the kitchen, and the cause of the blaze was unknown. The fire was reported around 10:15 a.m., and declared under control about 45 minutes later.
“We could have lost a whole family today,” said FDNY Deputy Chief William McCormack.
“These guys did a great job of getting into the apartment that had a heavy fire situation.”