ROSEBANK, Staten Island (PIX11/AP) — Two small children are safe thanks to their quick-thinking father who tossed them from a burning Staten Island home to open-armed neighbors below.
At least 34 people were hurt in the five-alarm blaze that broke out about 1 a.m. Thursday on Chestnut Avenue in the Rosebank section of Staten Island.
The fire department said 23 firefighters and 11 civilians suffered injuries ranging from minor to serious. Nearly all were taken to a hospital but none of the injuries is considered life-threatening.
The flames were so intense, a father tossed his two small children out of a window to a open-armed couple below.
A neighbor who caught the 5-year-old girl said she had to focus through her fear to help save the child.
“I’m here and I’m gonna catch her and I’ll take the brunt of it,” the woman recalled telling herself. “If she’s gonna fall on me, she’s small.”
The child and her 3-year-old brother are recovering in the care of their grandmother.
The neighbor-turned-rescuer said she visited the hospital where the girl was being treated, and the young child hugged and thanked her.
“That put a smile on my face,” the neighbor said.
The children’s parents were eventually rescued from the burning home and were listed in serious condition Thursday afternoon.
About 200 firefighters battled the blaze for more than five hours. Flames ultimately consumed three, two-story townhouses and displaced six families, a fire department spokesman said.
A city official at the scene said the buildings likely will have to be demolished.