Firefighter Perishes in Attic Blaze

An experienced firefighter stretching a hose to a home's burning attic was killed Sunday when a ceiling collapsed, throwing him to the ground and knocking off his helmet and oxygen mask.

The firefighter, Lt. Robert J. Ryan Jr., was unconscious when colleagues found him and pulled him from the two-story home in Staten Island. He was pronounced dead a while later at a hospital.

It was unclear whether Ryan, 46, was in the attic or was below it when the ceiling fell, firefighters said.

One resident in the home at the time escaped unhurt, the fire department said.

The electrical fire, in the New Brighton neighborhood, was reported about 12:30 a.m. and was brought under control an hour later.

Ryan's engine company was the first to arrive to tackle the flames, which appeared to have been caused by faulty wiring, firefighters said.

Ryan, a 17-year veteran of the fire department, was promoted to lieutenant in March 2001. After Sept. 11, 2001, he was assigned to an engine company that had lost all its members in the World Trade Center attack, which killed 343 firefighters.

He was burned in a fire a few years ago and spent more than a year recuperating before returning to work.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in a somber hospital news conference Sunday morning, asked city residents to pray for Ryan, who was married with two children and two stepchildren.

"He was a brave man who lost his life protecting the city," Bloomberg said.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

A few days ago, a funeral was held for a Fire Department of New York trainee, Jamel Sears, who died after an exercise at the fire academy. Sears, 33, collapsed following an 18-minute training session performed while wearing about 100 pounds of gear.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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