A Staten Island fire tore through three townhouses in June 2014 and injured 34 people, including 23 firefighters and 11 civilians. A spokesperson for the FDNY said that some of the injuries were serious, but none were life-threatening. Officials are currently investigating the cause of the blaze.
At 1:00 a.m., 200 firefighters responded to a 911 call about a fire in several townhouses. Officials stated that it took the FDNY seven hours to bring the blaze under control. One man who lived on the second floor of one of the townhouses called out to neighbors below to catch his two children who were only five and three-years-old. Anthony DiSimone, 40, caught the man’s son. DiSimone said, “The father was stuck up there…he couldn’t do anything…black smoke was just billowing out that window. So I went underneath. He threw him right to me, and I caught his son.”
Darleen Cerzosie, 39, caught the man’s daughter. She said, “He had his daughter in his hands and was leaning forward saying, ‘Please save my daughter! Help me!’ I said, ‘Let her go. I’ll catch her.'” Cerzosie fell as a result of catching the child and suffered from a sprained arm. Both children were uninjured, and firefighters were able to reach and rescue their father who was trapped in the smoke-filled home.
Cindy Piscopoe, who lived on the first floor of one of the townhouses, escaped the fire with her 12-year-old daughter. Piscopoe said she was alerted that there was a fire in the building after a neighbor banged on her door and told her to evacuate. Talking about the severity of the blaze, Piscopoe remarked, “I saw fire upstairs and flames shooting out of the side of the building. The top floors are gone from both buildings.”
According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), residential house fires killed 2,640 civilians in 2012. During the same time period, residential fires resulted in 13,350 injuries. Most of the fatalities and injuries were due to smoke inhalation and were not the result of burns. While the number of residential fires has decreased over the past few decades, many of the residential fires over the past couple of years could have been prevented. For instance, a majority of the fires were caused by unsafe cooking and cigarette smoking. In 2010, residential fires killed a person every 169 minutes; one person was injured in a house fire every 30 minutes. Fire departments respond to 384,000 house fires every year.
There are several groups of people who are at risk of being involved in fatal house fires. Children under four-years-old and adults over the age of 65 are likely to be involved in residential fires. People living in poverty and substandard housing are also at risk of being injured or killed in a residential fire.