MOUNT VERNON, New York (WABC) --A first responder is being hailed as a hero after a two-alarm fire in Mount Vernon forced one resident to jump from a window and into his arms.
Mount Vernon Police Lieutenant Marcel Oliviers injured his back and thumb when 49-year-old April Jackson-Haywood landed on him to escape the flames, which displaced between 14 and 18 residents after the blaze broke out on Mount Vernon Avenue around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Police have arrested 29-year-old Zakaila Gorham, a resident suspected of intentionally setting the fire.
"The person is emotionally disturbed but still, they have to be held responsible for their heinous action," Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas said. "This type of destruction is not tolerated in any circumstance."
Jackson-Heyward went from celebrating her birthday to literally jumping for her life.
"There was so much smoke, I couldn't find my dog," she said. "I panicked."
She jumped from her third-floor window after the heat grew too intense and prevented her from reaching the fire escape. Now, she feels grateful...and guilty.
"That was his job to save us, but I thanked that man for saving my life," she said. "Where would I be? Where would I be?"
The fire was brought under control quickly, but soon, there was a police investigation. Witnesses reported hearing a first-floor resident boast she started the fire, the latest and most serious act of bizarre behavior. That led to Gorham's arrest.
She was charged with second-degree arson.