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Firefighters answered the desperate cries of a pregnant woman Sunday afternoon, pulling her through the second floor window of a burning Jamaica house and taking her down a ladder to safety, eyewitnesses and fire officials said.
The dramatic rescue at 97-23 Remington St. in Jamaica just east of the Van Wyck Expressway came after fire rapidly spread through the basement of the three-story private house shortly after 12 p.m.
The woman was on the second floor gasping for air, said Daniel Rodriguez, who watched the rescue from his front stoop across the street. She was screaming please help me, please get me out of here.
Rodriguez said neighbors rushed to call 911 when they saw smoke billowing from the basement at around 12:15 p.m.
Firefighters said there was heavy fire in the basement when they arrived at 12:20 p.m. and that smoke had spread to the upper floors. They sounded a second alarm at 12:28 p.m.
There was a woman in the window on the second floor pleading for help, said Battalion Chief Jim Didomenico. One of the guys went in and got her.
Didomenico said the unidentified woman, who was pregnant, was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center for treatment of minor smoke inhalation.
Fire marshals arrived on the scene shortly after the blaze was extinguished and officials said the cause was under investigation.
There was nobody home in the basement when the fire started, said Mohan Suraj, 32, who has lived in the basement and on the first floor with eight of his relatives for the last year and a half.
Suraj said he had gone grocery shopping with his wife and 4-year-old son around 10:30 a.m. and returned to the block around 12:30 p.m. to see fire engines racing to his home.
After a complaint was lodged in 2000 alleging illegal occupancy, the Buildings Department cited the owner for failing to properly maintain a backyard garage, according to spokeswoman Ilyse Fink. No violations were issued for illegal occupancy and no complaints have since been received, she said.
After the fire had been put out, Arjuna Jack, 10, who lived with Suraj, sat on a stoop across the street stroking his puppy, Blackie. The young boy had been playing across the street when the fire broke out and although his house was ruined, he was happy his pet was safe.
As soon as I saw the smoke, the dog was barking and I went and took it from the front yard, he said.
Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2002 Community Newspaper Group
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