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Recently retired firefighter dies saving his wife, tenants from Queens house fire

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ST. ALBANS, Queens — He was a lifelong firefighter who ended up losing his life, ironically, in a fire in his own home.  However, the last thing that Andre Reid did before he perished was save the life of the person closest to him, and that act of heroism has left his family grateful.

"My mother told me she couldn't break the window," said Marie Robinson, Reid's daughter.  "He broke it for her.  My mother said she thought he would follow her, but he didn't."

The fire broke out on the second floor of the two-story home at 205-16 113th Road at about 9:15 a.m., Monday morning.  About three hours later, Marie Fontas, Reid's wife, was walking on the sidewalk, pacing outside of the police tape.

She was in shock, but was nonetheless alive and in good physical condition thanks to the heroic, swift action her husband had carried out for her.

"When I came out, she was in the bushes right here," said Louis Mercier, a tenant who lives on the first floor, below Reid and his wife.  Ms. Fontas managed to land on some tall shrubs below the window out of which she'd plunged when her husband got her out.

He didn't manage to escape himself, even though he knew how to handle fire better than most.

"He was a firefighter in Haiti," said Robinson.

She said that he had recently retired from firefighting in the Central Caribbean nation. He had moved to New York just three months shy of his 70th birthday.

"He told us to get out of the house," said Mercier, describing how he'd been able to escape unscathed, along with the other three tenants and Fontas.

"He's a very generous person," said Robinson in the present tense about her father, who'd been transported from the scene in serious condition by fellow firefighters, but who died minutes later.  "He cares about his family a lot," she said.