NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Four firefighters were severely hurt either fighting or trying to get to an extra-alarm fire in the Bronx Tuesday afternoon.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, three firefighters were hospitalized while battling the blaze, and a fourth nearly lost his arm in an accident on the way to the scene.
Firefighter Patrick Morello, 34, suffered heat stroke while trying to stop the spread of flames up on the roof, and came down and collapsed, the FDNY said. Morello had 11 years on the job. He was in critical, but stable, condition at Jacobi Medical Center.
“Young firefighter in good shape, but the conditions these firefighters work under are extremely difficult and extremely life-threatening,” said FDNY Chief of Department James Leonard.
Firefighter Joseph Brady, 51, suffered a heart attack in the intensive care unit, the FDNY said. That firefighter, a 17-year veteran, had turnout gear on and was working with chest pain, the FDNY said. He was also in critical, but stable, condition at Jacobi Medical Center.
Fire Lt. Joseph Martorell, 54, suffered severe burn injuries while fighting the blaze, but was treated and released from the hospital.
And firefighter Sean O’Rourke, 44, with 14 years on the job, had an arm detached in a truck accident at Westchester Avenue and Waters Place. O’Rourke was driving a truck from Queens to provide backup aid for the fire.
His left arm was nearly torn off as the truck hit the pole. Surgeons operated for long hours Tuesday night trying to save O’Rourke’s arm.
“To have a member come in – when I saw his arm and shoulder – it was very upsetting,” Leonard said. “We deal with a lot of tough things, but it was a tough day for the Fire Department.”
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro spent long hours at Jacobi with the injured.
“This has been a very difficult day for our department,” Nigro said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio stopped by the hospital for an update late Tuesday.
Meanwhile, as CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported, some of the residents barely managed to get out of their homes alive. Five homes were damaged, and officials said the fire was tough to fight because of the heat.
The fire – which was raised to four alarms – jumped from one home to another in the Wakefield section of the Bronx Tuesday afternoon. It started at 636 E. 235th St., where a boy named Phillip Campbell and his family live.
“All of a sudden, (we were) in the living room watching TV. Then I heard glass break in the kitchen, then I saw fire in the backyard,” Phillip said.
“My niece came and said: ‘There’s smoke! There’s fire!’ so we went to look and we saw smoke and fire, so we tried to get everybody out. We woke up my mother,” said fire victim Sheriffa Campbell.
Everyone escaped the flames. Some family members went in to get others.
“I have an 85-year-old grandmother, and I went in and got her out of the house,” said Shaniqua Young. “It was hard, but you know, we got through it.”
Investigators said the fire spread quickly because the homes have a common loft.
“It started in the back — there’s a back porch,” Young said. “I don’t know what happened.”
Sheriffa Campbell said she believes her family has lost everything.
“They’re not telling us if everything’s gone, but I’m pretty sure that it’s gone,” she said.
The FDNY said via Twitter that the blaze was caused by children playing with fire on a stovetop.