An area firefighter reminded everyone why the FDNY are New Yorks Bravest last week when he raced into a burning apartment to rescue a 96-year-old Bergen Beach man too overcome by smoke to escape on his own. Without concern for his own well-being, Lieutenant Anthony Rich of Engine Company 323 ripped the oxygen mask off his face in order to give Alexander Unis a few life-saving gasps of air. Rich found the nonagenarian slumped over the kitchen table in the apartment. A chair next to Unis was on fire, according to published reports. I took my face piece off, and I put in on him so he could breathe, Rich told New York 1 after he and his team put out the fire gutting the top-floor apartment of 2102 East 69th Street at Avenue U. I kind of sandwiched him in between the chair and me. I grabbed low down onto the chair and started dragging the chair with him in it out of the building. Then these guys came and they just I wouldn't have been able to do it myself. Despite heavy smoke and flames, Rich managed to carry the senior to safety. As this paper went to press, Unis was recovering from burns and smoke related injuries at Kings County Hospital. Officials said that the fire erupted at about 9 p.m. on January 6. When the members of Engine 323 arrived at the scene, the apartment was filled with smoke. Flames were coming out of the windows. Firefighters were told that a neighbor who knew that the senior was in the burning apartment had broken out a glass window in a bid to rescue the senior, but the heavy smoke was more than he could bear. Members of the Flatlands Volunteer Ambulance Service treated the neighbor for smoke inhalation and a lacerated hand. With the use of a FDNY cherry picker, firefighters doused the apartment down. The fire was determined under control within 30 minutes. As this paper went to press, the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
©2007 Community News Group
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