Bravest Save 2 Sleeping Teens In Harrowing Rescue After Mom Returns Home To Find Home Ablaze

NY Daily News - September 09, 2009

by Mike Mclaughlin, Edgar Sandoval and Jonathan Lemire

Firefighters pulled two semiconscious teens to safety on Tuesday after an intense kitchen fire filled a Brooklyn home with choking smoke, officials said.

Dark plumes of smoke poured from the second floor of the tidy Bensonhurst home, but firefighters were able to crawl through pitch-black conditions to find the boys in a rear bedroom, officials said.

The firefighters then carried the teenagers out a window to the sidewalk below, where one of their mothers was waiting with tears in her eyes.

"My son was brought out [and] I was relieved," said a shaken Carolyn Maldonado, 39. "He came out all right."

Maldonado's 19-year-old son Damian and his 15-year-old friend were taken to Lutheran Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation. Both were expected to recover.

Maldonado said she went to the bank with her daughter Alexis, 12, only to return to her Bay 29th St. home minutes later and find smoke and flames.

"Oh, my God! Oh, my God!" Maldonado said. "The coffee pot must have been on. I always check. I'm a nervous person."

FDNY officials confirmed the blaze ignited in the kitchen at 1:15 p.m. "When we went inside, we found fire in the kitchen - the entire kitchen was involved," said Firefighter Thomas Carrera of Ladder 168. "The fire was pretty bad."

Damian Maldonado, a senior at New Utrecht High School, was sleeping when the fire started, his mother said. His friend's name was not released.

"I saw people say, 'Help me! There's a fire!'" said neighbor Yelena Loiko, who saw the teens cry for help. "It was a big fire."

Two police officers also were treated for smoke inhalation. Firefighters also saved several birds living in the house, though one was still missing late yesterday, Carolyn Maldonado said.