Exclusive: Family who handed child out window during Brooklyn fire speaks out

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Thursday, March 3, 2022
Exclusive: Family who handed girl out window during fire speaks out
The 16-month-old girl was passed to a firefighter through a third floor window, and her parents spoke out exclusively to Eyewitness News reporter Kemberly Richardson.

WILLIAMSBURG, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Two children were among 11 hurt and a toddler was among those rescued when a two-alarm fire tore through an apartment building in Brooklyn early Thursday.

The 16-month-old girl was passed to a firefighter through a third floor window of the building on Moore Street in Williamsburg after the flames broke out just before 2 a.m., and her parents spoke out exclusively to Eyewitness News reporter Kemberly Richardson.

Firefighters arrived to find heavy fire and residents trapped. Several were rescued, brought down ladders to escape the flames and smoke.

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Nicole Martin lives in the apartment next to where the fire started, with her husband Onex Aviles, their 16-month-old daughter Savanah, and other relatives.

"All I could think of was the fire in the Bronx," she said. "And I was like, we're going to die, we're going to die."

She can be seen on video banging on her window, desperately trying to get anyone's attention as smoke was quickly filling their apartment.

"We looked through the peep hole and all you see is black," Aviles said. "So it was just impeding doom. It was like we were in hell."

They couldn't go into the hallway, and time was running out. So Aviles ripped an air conditioning unit out of a window and scaled down the side of the building.

"Its sort of like you're Spider-Man, so I'm climbing down, climbing down," he said. "I just guided the firefighters to what window they needed to go to."

Martin was inside the apartment holding Savanah the whole time.

"She started shaking, so I'm losing my mind at the same time but I've got to keep my composure because of course she's feeing off my energy," she said. "So if mommy's scared, what's going on?"

Seconds later, cameras caught the incredible moment where firefighters reached the window and got Savanah out. The firefighter then shimmied down the ladder with the girl, who weighted just a pound when she was born.

"That's my little miracle, my angel, that's all I could think of," Martin said. "She already went through so much, she don't have to go through any more. So I was just so happy to see (the firefighter). Whoever you are, I don't know your name. But I appreciate you and I love you."

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Authorities are looking into whether a space heater sparked the fire. The woman who lives in that apartment, named Crystal, described how the fire started.

"Immediately when I got up, I went to the kitchen, and I just couldn't believe that my space heater...was on fire," she said. "It was in the low flame, so I immediately called 911. And as soon as the heater, the fire, went up more, and I tried to get water, I just ran out. I grabbed my child and ran out as quick as I can."

A 9-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl are recovering, and windows smashed open as part of the rescue effort are now boarded up.

"I opened the door and all I saw were all of our neighbors on our floor running out," one resident said.

Anthony Sabater was carried out by firefighters.

"One of the fireman brought me down," he said. "But I'm here, thank God. Thank God. It could've been worse."

Four residents were taken to Woodhull Hospital, while two firefighters were also taken to the hospital to be checked out.


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