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Baby, 4 Others "Clinging To Life" After Park Slope Blaze Caused By Cigarette In Bed

615 President Street, Brooklyn
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615 President Street, Brooklyn Google Maps

Members of the family who were trapped in a Brooklyn row house fire on Thanksgiving are in critical condition in NYC hospitals. According to the Post, 8-month-old Josiah Alexis, his mother Justine Alexis, uncle Jonathan Alexis and his aunt's husband George DeJesus are all at New York Presbyterian Cornell Weill Medical Center with ventilators; the baby's aunt, Jasmine Alexis (twin sister to Justine, wife of DeJesus) is at Jacobi Medical Center. This news comes as fire official described how the fire, started by someone smoking in bed, spread across the President Street home in Park Slope.

Around noon, a cigarette apparently touched the mattress. Instead of calling 911, the residents tried to put the fire out themselves. A source told the Post, "One of the people dragged the mattress through other rooms in an attempt to get it into the bathroom and extinguish the fire. But instead, the fire spread and trapped everyone inside." One of the men managed to break out of a third-floor window and jump to the awning of a neighboring building; a neighbor called 911, concerned he was trying to kill himself, but then heard him yelling about a baby inside.

After receiving the 911 call, the FDNY got there 2 minutes and 27 later. Baby Josiah hadn't been breathing for over five minutes. Firefighter Neil Malone had given him CPR, and he and EMTs hoped the baby would respond. The Daily News reports, "In the cramped confines of an FDNY ambulance, just before the six-minute mark, came twin miracles: a pulse and a small snortlike cough." Malone said, "It’s like a song to your ears to hear that baby get its breath on its own. It was the best Thanksgiving I ever had.”

Other firefighters described the chaotic scene to the News—Firefighter Richard Myers said he climbed into a window and found Justine Alexis, who said, "‘My baby is inside! My baby is inside!" He noticed she was injured, I cleared the glass and grabbed her. She was bleeding bad. I lowered her onto the ladder. I put on my mask and climbed through the window. . . . There was a guy on the floor at the base of the bed, unconscious." Firefghter Dave Newberry took the baby from the house, "I was doing mouth-to-mouth on the baby on the way down," handing the baby to Firefighter Andrew Hartshorne, who was photographed in a dramatic picture. Hartshorne and Malone tended to the child, giving CPR and then using a machine to administer relief.

The baby's grandfather, Serge Alexis, who owns the row house, saw him at the hospital, "I touched him I tried to wake him up. He was a smiling baby, always smiling."

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