NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A fire broke out inside a Queens home on Sunday morning, trapping a grandmother and her granddaughter.
The only way out was through a small window in the attic.
Enter the bravest of the FDNY.
In the below photo, which was taken by a neighbor, you see a woman near the top of a ladder getting rescued from what she told CBS2’s Dave Carlin exclusively was certain death.
“It was terrible, yeah,” Lee Ann Ali said.
Two firefighters pulled her to safety through a tiny window in the attic, where she was trapped along with her young granddaughter.
The stairs were blocked by flames and thick smoke.
When asked if she would have died if not for the firefighters pulling her through that tiny window, Ali said, “Yes, correct. I thank them so much for saving my life and my granddaughter.”
The granddaughter was later seen in an ambulance and then on her dad’s shoulders leaving Jamaica Hospital, where she spent several hours getting treated for smoke inhalation.
Also hurt, but not seriously, were her father and grandfather.
One firefighter required medical attention. His injuries were described as minor, CBS2’s Carlin said.
Neighbors in the South Richmond Hill section of the borough were amazed by the work of the FDNY.
“I mean, wow, the bravery of those guys … that is amazing,” neighbor Wilmer Amaya said.
In three minutes the firefighters responded to the scene on 107th Street.
“Everybody did a really great job. If our members didn’t get up there and put that ladder up to help these people, they would have died. It was a death trap in that place filled with heavy smoke and fire,” FDNY Battalion Chief Robert Bohack said.
Fire investigators did not release a cause of the fire, but Ali told CBS2’s Carlin, “A guy was smoking cigarettes. That’s all I know.”
Added tenant Calvin Singh, “Everyone came out safe. Material things … they can always get back material stuff.”
Singh lives on the first floor. Most of his family’s belongings were ruined. That and seeing a vacate order from the city Department of Buildings on the door were tough, but one look at a photo of a successful rescue brings everything into sharp focus.
Everyone involved was lucky.
The Department of Buildings told CBS2’s Carlin the two-family home had been illegally converted into a home with five units. It’s not clear whether that played a role in the family’s ability to escape the fire.