SOUNDVIEW, The Bronx (PIX11) - If it weren’t for two things — a man who doesn’t see his disability as an obstacle in any way throwing his small children over a balcony railing to safety, and a skilled neighbor catching his kids — a bad house fire in the Bronx would have been worse, and possibly deadly, according to eyewitnesses.
“He definitely is a hero,” said a friend of Fidel Morales, 54, about the man who saved his family from the two-alarm fire at 1126 Taylor Avenue that broke out shortly before 4:00 A.M. The friend would not give her name, but she released a photo of Morales with his permission, hours after singing his praises for his actions in the fire emergency.
“He managed to put his fears to the side,” she said. ”I personally feel I would have panicked. He did a great job.” She told PIX11 News that it was a challenge for Morales, who lost an arm and a leg years ago, to move around and lift objects when he’s not wearing his prosthetic limbs.
That did not stop him from saving the lives of his family members early Monday morning. The fire, according to the FDNY, was started by unattended candles in the rear of the ground floor of the home on Taylor Avenue. Morales was able to get his wife, a toddler and a 27 day-old baby relative onto a balcony at the front of the top floor of the three story home.
“When he came out, he was yelling for someone to help him,” his friend told PIX11 News, based on the description Morales had related to her. ”Some guy came and caught his son, along with everyone else. We don’t know who the guy is,” his friend said. ”He doesn’t even know who the guy is. We’re trying to find out who he is.”
PIX11 returned to the two-family home later in the day, and encountered the mystery Good Samaritan.
“They were kind of scared, but I said, ‘Throw it, throw it. Don’t worry,” said Eddy Harasme.
He lives with his family in the lower two floors of the home, but he and Morales did not know each other. Harasme caught both children, as Morales threw them down the balcony to safety. Morales’s wife also jumped from the balcony, and so did Morales himself.
Eddy Harasme caught them all, and made sure that his own family escaped the blaze as well. In all, 15 people, including the two families and some relatives staying in each home, made it out safely, thanks to the unusual heroics of two men.
Immediately after catching each child that was thrown from the balcony, Harasme handed them over to a neighbor, who in turn handed the children over to EMTs. The medics whisked everyone in the Morales family away before they were able to talk with and thank Harasme.
“I don’t see myself like a hero,” Harasme said humbly about what had happened. ”I was helping, I was doing my best. That’s what I was doing at that moment.”
For his part, Morales is recovering from smoke inhalation injuries at Jacobi Medical Center, along with at least two members of Harasme’s family.
The FDNY said that, in addition to the efforts of the two men, working smoke detectors on the two top floors of the home were key in preventing the fire from becoming fatal.
On the ground floor, where the candle-caused fire broke out, there were no working smoke detectors, according to fire inspectors.