FDNY Rescues 4 from Brooklyn Blaze

NY Post - July 27, 2020

by Lloyd Mitchell and Kathianne Boniello

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A woman and her three children were seriously hurt in a Brooklyn apartment fire Saturday — with one semi-conscious victim so desperate to escape, they were found with their head hanging out of an eighth floor window.

A second victim was found unconscious in the burning living room of the home at 180 Wortman Ave., while the third was unconscious in a bedroom closet and the fourth was beneath a mattress in a back room, said 13-year FDNY veteran Lt. George Mueller, who discovered two of the victims.

Authorities had few details on the extent of the injuries but the most severe appeared to be a young girl who looked “absolutely lifeless,” a witness said.

The victims were taken to Brookdale Hospital, leaving the firefighters who rescued them “praying” for their recovery, one rescuer said.

The fire and smoke were so bad there was “zero visibility” inside the apartment, said Mueller, 36.

“When we got the door to the apartment open, we were met with a wall of black smoke that came out into the hallway,” he said.

“You would literally have to be on top [of the victims], face to face” to find them, he added.

It took 60 firefighters less than an hour to quell the flames, and Mueller estimated the rescue itself was “just a few minutes,” but “it felt like forever.”

Firefighter Khalid Lewis, 29, a colleague from Ladder 107 who helped get one person to safety, called the dramatic rescue “emotional.”

“We got in there and we were on our knees, crawling,” he said. “We’re all just hoping for the best, praying for the victims.”

The firefighters described a collective effort to try and pull the victims to safety.

“Everyone did a great job forcing the door, making searches, and putting the fire out,” Mueller said.

Mueller and Lewis were joined by Firefighter Khalid Lee, 28, who found the person under the mattress.

“This is what we train for. … I just hope that everybody is able to make it home safely,” Lee said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.