Early morning heroics by a double amputee war veteran helps save the lives of two children caught in a fire in the Bronx. According to the Fire Department, this is the second recent fire in the Bronx caused by candles. NY1's Kristen Shaughnessy filed the following report.
Fire marshals said candles burning in the basement of 1126 Taylor Avenue in the Bronx caused the fire that injured 12 people early Monday morning.
A 53-year-old veteran is being hailed as a hero after saving the lives of two children at the fire, which broke out in the Soundview section of the Bronx at about 4 a.m., according to officials.
Neighbors quickly realized something was wrong.
“When I opened my back door, I saw some big flames come inside. I pushed back the door and I run,” neighbor Franciane Valmont said. “My daughter was sleeping so I wake her up. I said, ‘Let’s get out, let’s get out, let’s get out.’”
When Valmont was outside she saw 53-year-old Fidelis Morales trapped on the second floor of the burning home struggling to drop a month-old baby girl and a 1-year-old boy to safety.
Neighbors said Morales is a war veteran who lost a leg and an arm.
“I saw him hanging the baby from the porch,” Valmont said. “Everybody was screaming, I started to scream. I screamed and then we had to help him to get the babies out. I had the two babies then somebody else took the two babies from me and that was it. Then I saw him jump.”
Morales jumped from the second-floor balcony. He suffered smoke inhalation and injuries to his leg, but is expected to be okay.
Two other people were hospitalized in critical condition.
The injured range in age from the month-old baby girl to a 65-year-old man.
Six of the victims are under age 20.
“I saw huge black flames going up and I got scared because my car is somewhere here. So I ran out and I saw like crazy cop cars, the Fire Department and everything,” said Mohammed Jahan, a neighbor.
“It happened so fast,” Valmont said. “Oh it was terrible.”
Fire marshals said the basement apartment did not have a smoke detector, but there was a working alarm on the first floor and that is likely what saved lives.
This is the third serious fire in the Bronx in four days and the second caused by candles.
On Friday night, candles caused a fire in a building in Highbridge.
There were no smoke detectors in the apartment where the fire broke out.
Three children died in that fire.