Photo Courtesy of FDNY
The three victims were rescued from the illegal third-floor living space.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Three people living in an illegally converted attic apartment were rescued Sunday morning from a two-alarm fire at a home in Richmond Hill, according to City Fire officials.
“If our members didn’t get up there and put that ladder up to help these people, they would have died,” said FDNY Battalion 51 Chief Robert Bohack. “It was a death trap in that place filled with heavy smoke and fire.”
The blaze broke out on the second floor of the 107th Street building around 7:45 a.m. In total, five victims were safely removed from the home and taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.
Bohack later detailed the effort of the Bravest to get to the people cornered in the illegal abode.
“Upon arrival we found heavy fire and were told that at least three people were trapped in the third-floor attic,” he said. “The outside team grabbed a 35-foot ladder and brought it to the rear with great difficulty. It was a narrow alleyway with two parked cars. Once they got past that and into the backyard, there was another parked car, a shed, and some wires. They raised the ladder to the very small attic window on the third floor. There was a makeshift kitchen there, so the patients had to climb over a sink to get out.”
The City Buildings Department immediately issued a vacate order on the house—the second one in nearly a decade. On Nov. 18, 2008, a vacate order was issued due to “no secondary means of exit for the apartment in the attic.”