Bay Terrace resident and Astoria native Richard Sclafani, 37, was a 10-year veteran of Ladder 103 in Brooklyn, the Fire Department said. Sclafani was overcome by smoke and fire in a stairwell Sunday afternoon while he searched a basement after a two-alarm fire broke out in East New York, according to the FDNY. John Bellew, a 37-year-old native of Howard Beach and 1985 graduate of Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood, was one of two Ladder Company 27 firefighters killed after they were forced to jump out of a Bronx apartment building during a three-alarm fire that trapped them on the fourth floor, the Fire Department said. Lt. Curtis Meyran of Long Island was also killed from injuries sustained from the fall, authorities said.Ladder Company 27 Firefighter Brendan Cawley, who grew up in Flushing and also graduated from Archbishop Molloy in 1992, was one of four firemen injured from leaping out of the building's windows during the Bronx fire, authorities said. He was in critical condition at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. Fire officials said a preliminary investigation revealed the Brooklyn fire started from flammable materials ignited by an electric space heater in the basement.During the Brooklyn fire on Sunday afternoon, Sclafani had entered the basement with other firefighters and was separated from them during the search, FDNY said. He was found in the basement staircase unconscious and in respiratory arrest, and died at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, fire officials said. "When we got (to the hospital) there was a sea of firemen with sad faces, and I knew my son wasn't alive anymore," said his mother, Joan Sclafani, in a telephone interview. "They all came in single file in a very long line into the room. Some were totally covered with black soot because they were with him at the fire. They smelled of smoke and they came by and were crying."Described as a quiet, friendly tenant, Sclafani had lived in his Bay Terrace ground-floor apartment for about four years, neighbor Tom Zuvic said."He was too young," Zuvic said while shoveling his sidewalk Monday. "He would say to me he loved his job. He would say hello to everybody."A bouquet of brown flowers, left on a chair outside of Sclafani's home, lay wilting in the cold.The Bronx fire broke out Sunday morning due to an overheated extension cord, fire officials said. Bellew and Cawley were among the 150 firefighters who responded to the call. The six firefighters were searching the fourth floor for reported trapped residents, and jumped from a fourth floor window after they became trapped above the fire on the third floor, the Fire Department said. Fire officials were still investigating the blaze, including possible illegal alterations to the fourth-floor apartment that may have prevented the firefighters from gaining access to the fire escape to leave the building safely. The possible loss of water in one hoseline that may have contributed to the fire escalating onto the fourth floor was also being looked at.In addition, the FDNY said it was reviewing the possibility of providing safety ropes to each firefighter, a policy once mandated by the department but discontinued in 2000 due to the weight and bulkiness of the equipment. Fire officials said there were ropes on the roof of the Bronx building. One firefighter had descended on a rope to try to reach the trapped men, but "by the time he got into position it was too late," according the Fire Department
©2005 Community News Group
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