NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Questions are being raised about how long it took ambulances to arrive at the scene of a deadly fire in Queens over the weekend.
The blaze broke out Saturday night just before midnight at a home on Bay 30th Street in Far Rockaway.
The 911 call came in at 11:51 p.m., CBS 2 reported.
An ambulance was dispatched 14 minutes after the call and took seven minutes to arrive at the scene, a Fire Department spokesman said.
“They took too long to get here,” Shakeea White, a neighbor who called 911 after the grandfather ran out of the house screaming for help, told 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten. “It took them a very long time. The kids was laid out on the sidewalk and everything. They took way too long.”
Neighbor Megan Maloney said when she got to the scene, she saw firefighters frantically trying to save a little girl.
“The EMTs took forever to come,” Maloney said. “I was like, ‘These kids are dying in front of you.’ The firemen are trying to work hard enough to get this one alive, and they’re screaming, cursing, ‘Where’s the EMS?’ Where’s the EMS?'”
Four-year-old Jai’Launi Tinglin and his 4-year-old half-sister, Aniya, were killed.
Jai’Launi’s twin sister, Lai’ Launi, is hospitalized in stable condition along with her 63-year-old grandfather and a 55-year-old aunt.
Neighbors now want to know why it took more than 21 minutes for ambulances to get to the scene.
“I think if they got here at the same time, maybe those kids would still be alive today,” said neighbor Lisa Morales.
“I believe that they should both be here when they get that first call,” another neighbor said.
It’s standard procedure to wait for firefighters to arrive at a scene to confirm a fire before they call for ambulances, FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown on Monday.
But “it wasn’t dispatched at that time,” Cassano said. “And we’re looking at why. And we’re looking at the reasons if there was a delay.”
Cassano told Brown he’s in the process of heading up the probe and that investigators are listening to radio dispatch calls, hoping that sheds light on why there was an apparent delay.
Investigators said it appears a child playing with a lighter set a mattress in the basement on fire.
“Very emotional scene,” Cassano described. “I’ve been there many times.”
The children’s parents and other relatives knelt by a makeshift memorial outside the home Monday, tenderly arranging flowers, toys and balloons.
“We was fine,” Diane Tinglin, the victims’ stepmother, said, crying. “We was playing in the yard. That’s all I’m thinking about right now. We was playing the yard.”
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