A man trapped in a Central Islip house fire Tuesday was pulled out by two firefighters who found him standing on his bed, trying to breathe fresh air out of a small second-floor window, officials said.
Before the rescue, dense smoke filled the dark interior of the Rossmore Avenue home from ceiling to floor, but firefighters Bobby McGee and Jeffrey Kempf found the staircase to the bedroom, after hearing the tenant shouting "I'm here."
"I can't breathe," the tenant told the firefighters, and Kempf directed him to take a deep breath.
"I told him 'We're going to get out the front door, right now. Let's go,' " said McGee, first assistant chief of the Central Islip Fire Department.
McGee said the tenant was scared and tried to jump out the window. It "was only 12 inches by 18 inches and there was no way he was getting out of it," he said.
"We pulled him off the bed to get him going," said Kempf, a fire lieutenant. "He was almost like a floppy fish at that point."
McGee took off the mask to his tank of compressed air and strapped it onto the man, and all three hustled down the staircase. The tenant and McGee were later treated for smoke inhalation at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore and released.
The fire started just before 4:45 p.m. and about 60 volunteers from the Central Islip, Hauppauge and Islip Terrace fire departments responded, said Central Islip Fire Chief Kevin McAteer Jr.
When firefighters arrived, the homeowner was using a garden hose to try to put out flames in the first-floor bedroom, McAteer said.
"It didn't do any good," he said.
McGee and Kempf spent about five minutes inside the house, and two other firefighters were about to climb an outside ladder to the second floor when their comrades emerged with the trapped tenant, fire officials said.
The flames damaged one side of the house, on the opposite side of the tenant's bedroom, McGee said.
The Islip Town fire marshal's office was contacted to address possible fire and code violations in the house, McAteer said.
Suffolk County arson detectives are investigating the cause of the fire.