NBC New York
A fire in South Jamaica, Queens, believed to be deliberately set, sent a frantic mother throwing her baby out the window. A man caught the baby from the ground below, and is being hailed a hero. John Noel reports.
A desperate mother threw her baby out the second-floor window of a Queens home that was engulfed by a suspicious blaze early Thursday, fire authorities and witnesses said.
The child landed safely in the arms of civilians who gathered on the sidewalk next to the flaming building, said Dan Delargy, one of the first FDNY responders with Ladder 155.
Delargy said the baby, a 15-month-old boy, came flying out the window as he was walking in the front door of the Jamaica home.
"As we were getting set up, the lady couldn't wait for us and she dropped her baby out the window," Delargy said. "She was hanging out as far as she could and there were civilians walking by and they caught the baby."
One of those civilians, Shamel Lawrence, told NBC New York that he and another man put out their hands so they wouldn't miss the child.
"We made like a net to catch the baby," he said.
The child and mother are expected to be fine. Nine people, including three firefighters, were sent to the hospital with minor smoke-related injuries, the FDNY said. It wasn't clear if the baby or mother were among those victims.
Fire officials got the call for the blaze at the private home on Rockaway Boulevard just before 3 a.m. The fire was contained to the second floor.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, but officials are considering it suspicious.
Captain Anthony Varriale said the blaze appears to be intentionally set.
The fire began in a public hallway of the home, Varriale said. That could suggest arson because there is no source that would contribute to such intense flames so quickly, he said.
The investigation is ongoing.