(NY Daily News) Several Bronx residents narrowly escaped from their burning homes Wednesday afternoon after a fast-moving fire ripped through one house and then jumped to two others next door, the FDNY said.
Neighbors first called 911 around 1:55 p.m. when white smoke and flames erupted from a blue house on Hill Ave. near 241st St. in the Wakefield section of the Bronx.
Lukas Finch, 16, and Richard Baxter, 33, said they called the Fire Department after people starting running outside screaming for help.
“I saw people running from the blue house. There were three little girls and they were all panicking,” said Finch.
“When I looked up I could see the white smoke, it started to come from the front of the house and it began to turn black. My dad ran over there with the fire extinguisher to try and help,” the teen said.
A woman believed to be in her 70s had to be pulled away from the house by neighbors, Finch said.
“She kept screaming, ‘Oh God no, oh Jesus no!,” he related.
Baxter called 911 and then handed the phone to Finch while he ran to help.
The raging flames soon jumped from the blue house to a white house next door, witnesses said. A third house was also caught in the conflagration, the FDNY said.
Three young girls, all around the age of 10, ran out of the white house, said Baxter, along with a woman who appeared to be in her 30s and an older woman.
“The flames were crazy, they were huge. We didn’t think about the fire, we just wanted to make sure everyone was OK,” said Baxter.
Pooran Sanicharra, 58, lived in an apartment in one of the burned houses with his wife. They have resided in the home since they moved to the U.S from Guyana in 1995.
Sanicharra was at work when the flames broke out. He learned of the disaster when his wife called to tell him to come home quickly.
“My wife saw the fire in the other house, she saw the flames come over to where we live,” said Sanicharra.
“When I got home both homes were burning. Everything is all gone. I have to find a place to stay, buy some clothes, buy some food. I don’t know what we will do,” the distraught man said.
His wife made it out unscathed, he said. The couple said they’ll stay with friends down the street for the immediate future.
A Fire Department spokesman said the fire quickly escalated to a three-alarm blaze by 2:16 p.m. and then a four-alarm by 2:51 p.m.
It took until 3:35 p.m. for New York’s Bravest to bring the blaze under control.
The fire spread from the house at 4519 Hill Ave. to the two-story residential houses at 4515 and 4523 Hill Ave., the FDNY said.
Thirteen people were injured, including 11 firefighters.
One firefighter was seriously burned but is in non-critical condition. Two others were treated on site for their injuries. The other eight were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment for minor wounds.
Two civilians suffered some injury but refused medical attention, the FDNY said.
The Bronx blaze came just a day after a rookie firefighter fought through smoke and flames to rescue an unconscious boy trapped in a burning Brooklyn apartment.
Justin Tallett, 27, burst into the rear bedroom of the apartment around 11 a.m. Tuesday and found a 4-year-old boy motionless under a blanket and then carried him to safety, officials said.
The critically injured boy, identified as Trevele Belton, was resuscitated on his way to the hospital and is expected to survive.
Trevele’s two brothers — ages 5 and 8 — were also pulled from the blaze after the grandfather who had been watching them inexplicably bolted from the East New York apartment, leaving the children behind.