Sanitation Workers Helped Evacuate Burning Homes as Fire Erupted on Their Route: Officials

Friday, Apr 11, 2014  |  Updated 10:16 PM EDT
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Two city sanitation workers are being recognized for saving lives early Friday after a fire broke out along their route on Staten Island, and they went door to door to alert residents as the flames spread. Roseanne Colletti reports.

Two city sanitation workers are being recognized for saving lives early Friday after a fire broke out along their route on Staten Island, and they went door to door to alert residents as the flames spread. Roseanne Colletti reports.

Two city sanitation workers are being recognized for saving lives early Friday after a fire broke out along their route on Staten Island, and they went door to door to alert residents as the flames spread.

 
The workers, Jay Visone and August Cocuzza, were working their collection route on Pitney Avenue, where the fire broke out in the home of Larry Gray around 7:40 a.m.
 
Gray says his 14-year-old son and a school friend were still asleep on the second floor of the home. 
 
"I went to wake him up for school, and his bedroom became engulfed," he said. "I got them out, got the animals out, got the neighbors out." 
 
That's when Cocuzza and Visione came running. 
 
"We ran down the block where the houses were and started knocking on doors and ringing doorbells because they were all attached homes, and we knew the fire was going to spread," said Cocuzza. 
 
An off-duty firefighter who lives in the neighborhood, Leonard Tyrell, also helped get his neighbors out.  
 
Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia says the sanitation workers "are the embodiment of dedicated public servants -- taking quick action in time of need and still completing their regular collection routes." 
 
The fire was under control about an hour later. Three firefighters had minor injuries, FDNY said.
 
Three of the seven attached houses were burned-out shells. 
 
"This was the home for all our kids," parent Mary Lou Boulone said tearfully. "You know how there's a special home? This was it." 
 
Thirty-three fire units and about 138 firefighters responded. 
--Roseanne Colletti contributed to this report. 

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