He ran to the house and called 911, and a dispatcher told him to make sure no one was trapped inside. A Spring Valley Department of Public Works employee, was driving by about the same time and stopped to help. The two men entered through the back of house because the flames had already engulfed the front. “We found the [4-year-old non-Jewish] child by the door sitting by the bed. He was shaking. He couldn’t talk.”
Boy, 4, home alone as fire breaks out in Monsey
Mareesa Nicosia and Steve Lieberman • Journal News
MONSEY — A 4-year-old boy left home alone was pulled unscathed from a burning house Friday afternoon when two Good Samaritans who happened to be nearby rushed inside.
Neighbor Saul Friedman, 26, told The Journal News/Lohud.com he stepped out of his house on Herrick Avenue and was heading toward his car when he saw flames and smoke across the street at 485 West Central Ave., a few doors down.
He ran to the house and called 911, and a dispatcher told him to make sure no one was trapped inside. Barry Battle, a Spring Valley Department of Public Works employee, said he was driving by about the same time and stopped to help. The two men entered through the back of house because the flames had already engulfed the front, Friedman said.
“We found the child by the door sitting by the bed,” Friedman said. “He was shaking. He couldn’t talk.”
Battle said he ran upstairs to make sure no one else was inside.
Friedman said he took the boy — who was wearing just one shoe — by the hand and helped him out of the house.
About the same time, shortly before 2 p.m., former Monsey Fire Chief Andrew Schlissel was driving by and smelled smoke.
Schlissel said he found the boy standing on the lawn of the house, “stone-faced” and silent, but apparently uninjured. He pulled the boy to safety and called 911, and firefighters soon converged on the neighborhood.
“We are so lucky that that child was alive,” Monsey Fire Chief Adam Gordon said.
Dozens of firefighters from six departments worked for hours to douse the smoldering home, which was destroyed by the fire and later boarded up.
Gordon said the cause remains under investigation.
Shortly after the fire broke out, Ramapo Detective Sgt. John Lynch said an initial report indicated the boy might have started the fire while playing with matches, though other police and fire officials wouldn’t confirm that report late Friday.
Ramapo police said they had no information about whether anyone might face charges for leaving the boy home alone.
Manuel Lliguichusca, who lived at the house with his wife, three children and a few other people, said he didn’t know how the fire may have started.
He told The Journal News/Lohud.com he left the youngest of his children, Alexander, home alone for about 15 minutes while he walked to his brother’s house on West Street to pick up a piece of mail.
Lliguichusca said his wife was at work at the time, and the boy didn’t want to come on the errand with him.
Walking back to the house, he heard an ambulance and returned to find his son standing near a fire truck as smoke poured out of the house.
“I don’t know what happened,” Lliguichusca said.
A Red Cross spokesman said the agency would provide food, clothing and temporary housing for the six adults and four children who lived at the house.
Volunteer firefighters from the Monsey, Tallman, Hillcrest, Suffern, Nanuet, and South Spring Valley fire departments responded to the fast-moving fire that left the first floor of the pink house charred black.
Police blocked off West Central Avenue, and more than 100 onlookers crowded behind yellow caution tape on neighboring lawns and sidewalks as firefighters sawed through the roof of the house to release smoke and heat.
Sam Ehrenthal, identifying himself as the property owner and landlord, said he’s rented 485 West Central Ave. to the family for about four years and had previously lived there himself. He said additions had been built on, but the main house is more than 100 years old.
He seemed to take the loss of his property in stride.
“The main thing is nobody’s hurt,” Ehrenthal said. “Money can be replaced. A life cannot be replaced.”
Friedman, the neighbor who said he dashed into the house and found Alexander Lliguichusca, was thinking of his own kids — a 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter — during those few adrenaline-fueled moments.
Standing in the doorway of his home, flanked by his wife and the two youngsters, Friedman said, “I’m just glad to be able to save a child’s life.”
[Hat Tip: Devorah.]