Firefighters pull unconscious woman from burning Queens apartment

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Tim Fleischer is in Queens with the latest details.

An elderly woman with dementia was rescued by firefighters who pushed their way through smoke and flames to the bedroom of her burning Queens apartment Wednesday morning.

The 80-year-old woman was pulled from the bedroom of her second-floor apartment on Hempstead Avenue in Queens Village around 9 a.m.

"Heavy fire conditions on arrival," Deputy Chief George Healy said. "Fire appears to have been in the front of the building, and it was extending up as we were arriving on the scene."

The fire was burning in the kitchen, and firefighters had to traverse a smoke-filled hallway to reach the victim. Captain Gary Weinhofer, with Ladder 162, led two of his firefighters through the inferno.

"We go to the hallway, to where the kitchen was, and the room is fully involved at this time," he said. "Fire started rolling out over our heads into the adjoining room."

But then the unexpected happened, as the hydrant they were counting on did not work. All they had with them were two and half gallons of water in what's known as the can.

"I used the can to try to hold it back so we could get past the kitchen and to the two other rooms," firefighter Jordan Salvador said.

He headed right, while Weinhofer went left.

"As I was in the apartment, I found the 80-year-old occupant face down," Weinhofer said.

She was unconscious at the time, and she was rushed outside to paramedics.

"Made an aggressive search and rapidly located an occupant of the building," Healy said. "Brought her outside, EMS resources were showing up on the scene, and we transferred care to that patient."

EMTs Chris Bossart and Michael Loscalzo immediately began to treat the victim.

"We made the determination that she needed immediate intervention as soon as fire brought her out to us," Bossart said.

It was then that they administered a new drug for fire victims.

"It's a drug we don't use very often, but we are trained to use it," Loscalzo said. "And in this case, it happened to help this woman recover."

Washika Rich arrived on the scene later, telling Eyewitness News that her mother-in-law, Edith Toussaint, lived in the apartment alone.

"They went there, they rescued her," she said. "I really want to say thank you to the Fire Department so much for saving (her). Thank you so much."

She was rushed to North Shore LIJ Hospital, where Rich says she is now recovering.

The fire is believed to have been caused by unattended cooking, and it does not appear to be suspicious.

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firerescueNew York CityQueens Village
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