One of New York's Bravest died in the line of duty after responding to a two-alarm fire in Brooklyn Saturday night. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
Signs of mourning were everywhere you looked Sunday, on the firehouse where Lt. Gordon "Matt" Ambelas served, on the faces of the men he served with.
For the first time in two years, a firefighter had fallen in the line of duty.
"It’s a moment in the FDNY we all dread when we lose one of our own," said FDNY Comissioner Daniel Nigro.
"We have lost a real hero here tonight and our hearts are heavy," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
A fourteen-year veteran of the FDNY, Lt. Ambelas was at the peak of his career.
He'd been promoted 10 months ago, and just last month was honored for his role in the rescue of a seven-year-old boy who had been trapped in a roll up gate.
His heroism was also apparent Saturday night when he responded to the high rise fire at 75 Wilson Street.
A two alarm blast had broken out around 9:30 p.m. Residents of the public housing complex were trapped, some for close to half an hour.
"It was full of smoke so I closed it back in and then a few minutes later a firefighter knocked on my door. I opened the door and he told me to stay inside."
The fire originated on the 19th floor of the 21 story building. Lt. Ambelas led a group of firefighters there to search for trapped residents before he became trapped by the fire himself.
As an ambulance carried him to Woodhull hospital, his brothers lined up in what would be a final salute.
There were no other series injuries at the scene.
His friend and colleague, firefighter Eric Bischoff, says the circumstances of his death illustrate the type of man he was in life.
"Matt was a battle tested firefighter. He led his men from the front with bravery. He was unwavering on his efforts to find and save lives. He died a hero. That's how he lived and we will never forget him," Bischoff said.
Lt. Gordon "Matt" Ambelas was 40 years old. The Staten Island native leaves behind a wife and two young daughters, ages 5 and 8.
The FDNY released the cause of the fire on Sunday afternoon. In a statement, Nigro said the fire was electrical, and that it "originated at an air conditioning unit electrical cord, which was pinched between a bed frame and the wall."
The investigation is ongoing.
Full Remarks by Colleage Eric Bischoff about Lieutenant Gordon "Matt" Ambelas
TWC News: FDNY Firefigher Dies While Fighting Brooklyn High-Rise Fire
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