Boy Dies in Home Fire

The Wall Street Journal - December 30, 2010

by TAMER EL-GHOBASHY

An 8-year-old boy was killed early Wednesday when he became trapped inside his family's home in Brooklyn during a fire that also injured four others, authorities said.

A spokesman for the New York City Fire Department said the apartment, which was inside a brick two-family attached house on East 57th Street in the Mill Basin section, wasn't equipped with smoke detectors. Neighbors said the boy's grandmother and sister escaped the 6 a.m. blaze barefooted and in night clothes.

"It was a terrible experience," said neighbor Frank Cardello, 49 years old, who said he was jarred awake by the screams of the grandmother. Mr. Cardello said he called 911 and took the woman and her granddaughter into his home and gave them socks and blankets. He then alerted firefighters, who arrived four minutes after the 911 call, that a child was still in the house.

"I did what I could and [the firefighters] did their job," he said. But the boy, William Grice, couldn't be saved, officials said. He was declared dead at the scene. Officials said he was trapped inside the room where the fire appears to have ignited.

The FDNY spokesman said 60 firefighters battled the blaze and it was brought under control by 6:29 a.m. Four people were taken to Brookdale Hospital for minor injuries and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Mr. Cardello said William's grandmother would drive him and his sister to school every day and the boy appeared to be happy and friendly. On Tuesday afternoon, he was playing in the snow. "He seemed like a nice little kid," Mr. Cardello said. "Your typical, playful 8-year-old kid."