Good Samaritans Catch Children Thrown From Window During South Jamaica Fire

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A mother threw her two children to safety Thursday morning during a suspicious fire at a Queens home which firefighters said may have been firebombed.

Fire Captain Anthony Varriale told 1010 WINS it appears an accelerant was used to set fire to a stairwell of the home on the corner of Rockaway Boulevard and 144th Street in South Jamaica.

“We thought we smelled gasoline or something of that quality of flammable liquid,” Varriale said.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports

The blaze, which was contained to the stairwell, broke out in the home, which is right across the street from Engine 302 Ladder 55, around 3 a.m.

Varriale said residents of the building were in “panic mode” and seconds away from jumping out of their windows.

14-month-old Divine Gonzalez, rescued from a fire in Jamaica - Queens, NY - Feb 23, 2012 (credit: Marla Diamond / WCBS 880)

14-month-old Divine Gonzalez, rescued from a fire in Jamaica - Queens, NY - Feb 23, 2012 (credit: Marla Diamond / WCBS 880)

“Fortunately, we were able to get portable ladders up quick enough because we’re right across the street,” Varriale said. “Even before one was in place a woman started jumping onto a ladder.”

However, Sandra Gonzalez, a young mother of two, took a great risk to save her children from the flames.

Good Samaritan Shamel Lawrence, a retired New York City police officer, said he heard Gonzalez screaming and ran outside to see her dangling her 14-month-old son, Divine, out of the second story window.

Lawrence said Gonzalez told him she would rather throw her two children out of the window than let them burn.

“She was screaming that she couldn’t breathe, couldn’t see anything and they were passing out,” Lawrence said. “All she cared about was her kids.”

Lawrence and another man kicked down the door to the house but the flames prevented them from making their way upstairs.

Instead, the two men went back outside, clasped their hands together and caught the two children.

Fire Captain Dan Delargy told CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider the mother hung out of the window as far as she could and dropped the children about 10 feet.

“If we would’ve made one mistake the baby would’ve hit the ground and it would’ve been a whole other story,” Lawrence said. “I’m just glad that we can let these people see another day.”

Six residents, including the children, were taken to Jamaica Hospital for smoke inhalation.

Three fighters sustained minor injuries.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

  • Bklyn mom

    It doesn’t say anything about whether the mother survived! That would have been good to know.

    • maria goncalves

      yes my sis did survived and they all doing just fine

    • William

      I really think that CBS has High School kids writing these articles…. I take that back!! A HS kid would have mentioned the mom’s condition!!!

      • William

        Really happy about the kids though!

  • MsPhillyG

    To the good Samaritan thank you for being a good human being and being at the right place at the right time.

  • anonymous

    This is great news for those kids and the good samaritians are the best part of the worst probable tragedy prevented by people who care, wish there were more people in the world like this, good for you-those kids might be the next leaders of the free world all because somebody was there to save them from death. Thank you New York good samaritians.

    • Al Sharpton Antartica Tours

      “Next leaders of FREE world”? I’d put my money on next recipients of FREE welfare outlaid by MY tax dollars. Get real.

      • MsPhillyG

        Al Sharpton wanabe or who ever your fake disgusting piece of crap troll as$ is. You are a disgrace to the human race and if you were in a fire you would want your kids to be rescued but you probably set the fire your self.

      • Omar

        Please go jump in front of a moving subway train and remove yourself from the gene pool forthwith.

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