2007_12_sifiretm.jpgThe 9 year-old boy who perished in a house fire on Staten Island late Sunday apparently died while trying to save his pets. Tommy Monahan apparently had been with his mother as they tried to escape the fire, but he raced back to his room for his dog, lizard and fish. A 12-year-old neighbor told the Daily News, "Everybody thought he was outside but he wasn't.

Monahan's father had tried to rescue him from outside the house, using a ladder at a second-floor window, calling for Tommy to come out, even breaking a window. But the fire was too intense and firefighters later found the boy unconscious in his sister's room. Though he briefly regained consciousness, he died early Monday at Staten Island University Hospital.

The pets also died, and his relatives said that Tommy loved animals, noting how his piggy bank money went to care for stray animals. And an 8-year-old friend recalled, "He always asked me, 'If you see a snake come get me.' In my yard one time, I found a snake. He came over and we put it in a tank, then we let it go."

The FDNY thinks the fire was caused by a faulty extension cord. Tommy's father, Thomas Monahan Sr., an electrician who survived the fire with his wife and 8-year-old daughter, told the Advance "he believed the cord had either been built into the basement when the house was constructed or added a decade later." And Monahan Sr. was moved by the help his neighbors offered during the fire, "So many people, doing so many good things, for people they don't even know."

The FDNY has tips on how to plan escape from a fire. We haven't been able to find anything about saving pets from fires on the FDNY site (yet), but some sites recommend that people do not attempt to rescue their pets and instead get out safely and tell the fire department a pet is left.