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Civilians Jump from Windows to Escape Blaze; FIrefighter Make Dramatic Rescues

Civilians Jump from Windows to Escape Blaze; FIrefighter Make Dramatic Rescues

Vanessa Scott said she held Zaniwah Alexandra out the window so she could breathe. [AP]

Standard Examiner via YellowBrix

February 17, 2010

BRONX – A fire ripped through a Bronx public housing project yesterday afternoon, forcing a woman to dangle a baby out of a fifth-story window while she waited for rescuers to arrive.

The blaze broke out at around 2 pm inside a closet in an apartment in the Pelham Parkway Houses and quickly spread through the three-bedroom residence, sending victims to the windows gasping for air.

Unable to breathe, 18-year-old Vanessa Scott dangled her 7-month-old cousin Zaniyeh Hewitt out a window to keep the child from suffocating. She told the Daily News: “There was just smoke everywhere and flames. I couldn’t get anywhere except for the window,” she said.

“You couldn’t see anything.” Two firefighters hauled a 35-foot ladder over a fence and rescued the baby and a six-year-old, then returned for Scott. Other firefighters were able to rescue two adults and a toddler after reaching them through an interior staircase.

But the the 7-month-old’s father, Michel Alexander, wasn’t so lucky. When firefighters arrived at the scene of the blaze, the 19-year-old was hanging out a window. “We were saying to him, ’Don’t jump! Don’t jump!’” said firefighter Sean O’Donnell. But Alexander jumped before rescuers could reach him.

He struck an awning before falling to the pavement, breaking his wrist, ankle and nose, according to the Post. The tabloid notes that eight residents and two firefighters were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. “It went well,” said O’Donnell. “Many jobs don’t go this well.”