NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A large fire on Staten Island on Monday burned several homes and left many firefighters injured.
It took more than 200 firefighters to get the Prince’s Bay blaze under control. They believe it started in the first floor of one townhouse and quickly spread to five others, CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported.
Reise Gargiulo said he was in the shower when he smelled smoke.
“I knew immediately to go upstairs, get my brother, wake him up and I told him, ‘Listen, there’s a fire. Get out of the house. Let’s go. Lets go,’ and I just put on sweatpants and that was it. I ran out,” Gargiulo said.
“My brother woke me up, yeah. Thank God, I might have been dead,” Richie Gargiulo said.
Reise Gargiulo said he and his brother managed to escape when a fire broke out in a neighbor’s townhouse on Renssalear Avenue at around 3 p.m.
One neighbor saw the chaos and smoke and did what he could to help.
“We heard the first fire truck coming down the block, so we come running out of my cousin’s house… We seen the smoke coming out so we ran down the block, tried to get everybody out as quick as possible,” neighbor Richie Gunderson said. “Couple houses down we tried to get a dog out. Cops broke open the door to get the dog out.”
Other neighbors, including retired police officer Paul Oliveri, ran inside to save an 85-year-old disabled woman. They put her in a chair and carried her down the stairs from the second floor and out to safety.
“We went right in to the house to get Terry because I know Terry is disabled and she’s on 24-hour oxygen and the basement is stuffed with canisters of oxygen, so we wanted to get her out of there as soon as we could, God forbid an explosion,” Oliveri said.
Dozens of firefighters worked quickly to contain the flames, which spread throughout the attached townhouses.
“The fire extended very quickly, mostly due to the construction of the building, extended on the top floor of the space, in the roof area,” FDNY Chief of Department John Sudnick said. “There was a lot of wood up there and it got ahead of our units very quickly.”
It took less than three hours to get it under control, but by then the damage was already done, Castro reported.
“It’s devastating,” Reise Gargiulo added. “It’s hard. You got pictures and memories in there. I got all my daughter’s stuff in there, my clothes. It happens and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Despite that, he offered some perspective.
“We got out. Everybody is breathing. Everybody is safe, living and that’s all that matters,” Reise Gargiulo added.
In total, there were 19 reported injuries — one civilian and eighteen firefighters. All of the injuries are minor, officials said.