Bronx apartment fire leaves 1 dead, 1 injured

September 14, 2013 9:45:53 PM PDT
One person has died after a fire broke out Saturday morning inside an apartment in the Bronxwood section of the Bronx. However, the fire could have been much worse if it were not for a rookie firefighter, who had just four months on the job.

A mother and her wheelchair bound son became trapped by flames and thick smoke from the fire that started in the kitchen of their fifth floor apartment on 2705 Colden Avenue. The heavy smoke also trapped neighbors.

"I looked through the peephole to see if it was safe to come out," said Jenny Cobarrubia, "smoke from floor to ceiling ? we had to stay trapped in there."

Firefighters from Engine Company 62 rushed into the deadly apartment fire to try and rescue the disabled son and his mother.

"Once we popped open the door, we were met with extreme heat and zero visibility. You couldn't see anything," said Captain Patrick Tracy of Engine Co. 62.

Rookie firefighter Ryan Blackwell, who had only 4 months on the job, found the mother on a hallway floor and pulled her to safety.

"I just did what I was trained to do at the Academy, and what anyone else would have done in my position. Training paid off," says Blackwell.

Saving lives is in Blackwell's blood. His father was a firefighter. He died trying to rescue others on September 11th, 2001, when Ryan was just 14.

"I knew Firefighter Blackwell, he was a great man and father," adds Captain Tracy, "and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

Firefighters were unable to find the 23-year-old disabled son in time. He died of smoke inhalation.

The mother is in critical condition at Jacobi Hospital, but is reportedly improving, and is likely to survive.

Fire marshals are still working to determine the cause of the fire.