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Family Remembers Bravery of Firefighter Who Died in Line of Duty

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The firefighter who died in a fire in Williamsburg Saturday night had recently been recognized for his bravery in another incident that took place in May—and one Williamsburg family says they'll never forget what he did for them. NY1's Mahsa Saeidi filed the following report.

May 8 was just another day on the job for Lt. Gordon Matt Ambelas, as he and fellow firefighters worked to save a seven-year-old boy trapped in a roll down gate.  

Mendy Gottlieb was pulled feet off the ground, his head stuck. But after a 15 minute technical operation, he was rescued.  

"That lieutenant—he was the one who saved the child, took him out from the roller gate and he made sure that he's okay, and he saved his life," said Rabbi Chaim Heller of Satmar Synagogue.

As firefighters and the city mourn the death of Lt. Ambelas, so too did many in this tight-knit Williamsburg community.  

"We said the Talmud that he who saves one life is like he saves the entire world and for someone like that, after saving the world, to be in this kind of condition—it is horrible,"

"We feel terrible about it. It's like missing someone of us," Heller said.

At a ceremony just days ago, Lt. Ambelas and firefighters from Engine 211, Ladder 119 were honored for their role in saving Mendy's life.

On that day, the 40-year-old was quoted as saying, "FDNY members are always ready to help others."

That's a sentiment he clearly lived by.

Mendy's mom, Yachet Gottlieb, wasn't comfortable being on camera Sunday, but had this to say about the lieutenant.  

"He was savior of my son, and I'm sure he saved many other lives as well, not only Mendy's," she said.

Shocked and saddened, her thoughts are with his wife and two daughters.  

"Whenever we see our son and we think about the story, we think about the lieutenant, and the firefighters that were on the scene," Yachet Gottlieb said. "And I just hope that his family is going to find solace in the people that are living because of his heroic acts."  

Meanwhile, community members expressed their gratitude to Ambelas's FDNY brothers.  

"We know that you people are the lifesavers for the whole community," Heller said.

Mendy's mom say's she's eternally grateful.  

"I would thank him, and never forget about him," she said.

It's obvious that Lt. Ambelas' legacy will be remembered here—and will be carried on by his brothers.

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