Dramatic rescue of family of 4 from burning Brooklyn apartment

Firefighter Dan Quinn of Ladder 120 carried out one of four people from an apartment fire at 180 Wortman Avenue. (Photo by Lloyd Mitchell)

A woman and her three children were rescued from their burning Brooklyn apartment Saturday afternoon, with one child observed with her head hanging out an open window of her eighth floor bedroom.

Firefighters were praised for the dramatic rescues, including Lt. George Mueller, a 13-year veteran of the department from Ladder 107 who pulled two of the children to safety.

All the victims are in serious condition at various hospitals.

The fire broke out shortly after 3:30 p.m. at 180 Wortman Avenue, a NYCHA development. Firefighters were called and alerted of the fire, with smoke on various floors of the building. They broke down the door of the eighth floor apartment and began their search of the burning dwelling.

Members of Tower Ladder 107 led by Lieutenant Mueller rescued two people, while his team members, Firefighters Khalid Lewis & Khalid Lee each rescued one person, all unconscious from apartment 8H. Firefighter Dan Quinn of Ladder 120 carried a seemingly lifeless girl who was found in the back bedroom – her head was hanging out of an open window.

One adult is taken to an ambulance by EMS after being rescued from burning East New York apartment. (Photo by Lloyd Mitchell)

The individuals were taken to Brookdale University Medical Center with CPR in progress suffering from serious smoke inhalation, said Deputy Chief Michael Grogan. Their conditions as of this morning was not immediately known, but will be updated shortly.

The fire and smoke were so bad there was “zero visibility” inside the apartment, said Mueller, 36.

“When we pulled up on scene, we saw heavy smoke coming out of the rear of the building,” Mueller related on the FDNY Twitter page.  “We made our way up to the 8th floor through the thick black smoke. We were able to figure out what apartment it was and we immediately started to force the door. When we got the door to the apartment open, we were met with a wall of black smoke that came out into the hallway. When I began my search, there was zero visibility. About 10 feet in, I found an individual. I called it over the radio and Firefighter Khalid Lewis and I began to remove the person from the apartment. At the same time Firefighter Khalid Lee found another individual during his search. He brought the individual out where Firefighter Lewis was able to assist with the removal. During this time, I continued my search. I went back into the apartment and found a third person. At the same time, Firefighter Lewis continued his search and found the fourth person. There was a total of four people rescued from this fire. Everyone did a great job forcing the door, making searches, and putting the fire out.”

It took firefighters less than an hour to extinguish the fire, but the rescues all happened in those crucial few minutes.

Firefighter Khalid Lee, 28, who found the person under the mattress, commented, “We worked as a team to find the fire and individuals. It was a very high heat situation and we relied on our training in order to remove everyone from the fire. It was a collective effort.”

Unfortunately, a cat and a dog could not be saved from the fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by fire marshals.

This rescue comes only days after another dramatic rescue on Wednesday in which three people were pulled from a burning Eastern Parkway apartment, a combined effort of Rescue 2 and Ladder 120 who had to smashed a hole through a wall to get to the victims, the door blocked by e-bikes.

Firefighters rescued four people from an apartment fire at 180 Wortman Avenue. (Photo by Lloyd Mitchell)
Engine 225 and Ladder 107 after fire take a breather following dramatic rescue. (Photo by Lloyd Mitchell)


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