Neighbors help residents escape North Bay Shore house fire

A resident and neighbor of a Bay Shore home talk about the heavy fire that engulfed the house on Friday. Videojournalists: Ed Betz, Paul Mazza and Chris Rigueur (Nov. 15, 2013)

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At least 12 people escaped a raging house fire in North Bay Shore early Friday some with help from neighbors who rushed over after hearing the screams of two boys trapped on the top floor.

The Wisconsin Avenue home, divided into three apartments, was destroyed in the 6:30 a.m. blaze, but only one serious injury was reported, authorities said.

Grateful occupants of the burning home credited two teenagers who live across the street with rescuing the younger boys with a ladder. A first-floor resident and a passing motorist opened a blocked pull-down ladder to help reach the boys' mother. Another neighbor kicked in a rear basement door, freeing at least two others.

Three families were living in the two-story home, which included a basement apartment, residents said. By the time Brentwood Fire Department crews arrived, everyone had escaped, according to witnesses.

"If it weren't for my neighbors, me and my children wouldn't be alive," said Dawn Bosque, who lived in the home with her sons Ryan, 12, and Jaden, 2.

Bosque, 35, said she was asleep when Ryan ran to her room to say his bedroom was on fire.

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"I saw flames through the door and I closed the door," said Bosque, who has lived her entire life in the house, which is part of her grandmother's estate. "I looked out my window, and my sons said the neighbors were there. They were saying, 'Come on, come out the window.' "

Dhanniell Aquino, 24, who lived on the first floor, said he placed a mattress under the second-floor window. As the teens set up the ladder, he and a passing motorist forced open the trapdoor ladder to rescue Bosque.

Bosque wasn't injured, but she said her father, Manuel, 62, was in intensive care Friday night at Stony Brook University Hospital after suffering burns.

Third Precinct Officer Christopher Germano, who responded to the fire, was treated for smoke inhalation at Southside Hospital and released, police said.

Germano rushed into the burning first floor to help get people out, police said.

The Ortiz family across the street saw the blaze and called 911.

"We heard them screaming, 'We're trapped!' " said David Ortiz, 14, of the trapped boys.

Inside the house, Bosque could hear men below trying to open the trapdoor and pull down the ladder. But the trapdoor was covered by carpeting and a bed.

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Aquino said he and the unidentified passing motorist used knives to slice through the carpet, freeing the ladder after a struggle.

"This random guy who was driving by, who came out of nowhere, he was lifting it up so I was able to cut," Aquino said.

Outside, David Ortiz and his older brother Daniel, 17, could see Bosque's sons were too petrified to jump onto the mattress, so David grabbed the ladder.

Bosque said she lifted Jayden out to the teenagers who had climbed up. Ryan followed.

As the 12-year-old was going down the ladder, and the flames neared the window, Bosque used the pull-down ladder to escape.

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A group of neighbors helped her down, threw a blanket over her, then rushed to safety across the street, she said.

Neighbors provided food and shelter for the fire victims. Representatives of the Knights of Columbus came to the scene and contributed aid.

"Everybody came together," Aquino said, "and everybody made it out alive."

The cause of the fire is under investigation, police said. The Brentwood fire chief did not return calls.

With Gary Dymski and John Valenti

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