Firefighters rescue three from burning Brooklyn apartment

August 27, 2010 3:23:15 PM PDT
It was a frightening morning for dozens of residents in Brooklyn, where at least 10 people were hurt when a fire broke out in their apartment building.

The fire broke out on the top floor of the apartment building, located on Colby Court in the Gravesend section just before 2:45 a.m. Friday.

Residents say they were forced to grab whatever they could to escape.

"It was dark, very dark," resident Bohdan Kiyko said. "I couldn't see anything."

"My husband opened the door, and the firemen come in our apartment and pulled out me and my baby," resident Olena Kiyko said.

Firefighters saved three other lives from the burning building.

With fire blowing out the windows on the top floor of the six-story building, Lt. Edward Gonzalez, and Firefighters Nick Shelse and Keith Norris from Ladder 161, walked up to the sixth floor, where they found heavy smoke in the hallway.

When they reached the burning apartment, they found the door was open, so they began to search for victims immediately.

Even though there was no visibility in the apartment, they quickly found the first victim - a 72-year-old woman who was semi-conscious near the front door. Although she was dazed, she was able to tell firefighters there were two other people in the apartment.

Shelse carried her down a few floors to safety and returned to help continue to search, officials said.

The apartment was filled with high heat and smoke, according to the firefighters. Conditions became even more dangerous as the fire spread to the cockloft (area between the ceiling of the top floor and the roof), so they had to let members of Engine 245 stretch the hose line up the six flights of stairs and start getting water on the fire before they continued.

Firefighters pressed forward until they found a second victim, a woman in her 80s, in a back bedroom. They passed her to firefighters in the hallway.

Lt. James Kelly from Engine 245 found the third victim, a man in his 80s, in a bedroom.

The two-alarm fire was brought under control at 3:55 a.m.

EMS transported the victims to area hospitals in stable condition. They were treated for smoke inhalation. Six firefighters also were taken to area hospitals with minor injuries.

Investigators said the fire was electrical, starting in an area of the room where many electrical appliances were plugged.

Fire marshals said there were no working smoke alarms in the apartment.