Family of 5 Critical After NYC Blaze

Five members of a New York City family were in critical condition Wednesday following an apartment fire that apparently was caused by a neighbor's cigarette.

The parents, two children and the boys' grandmother were rescued early Tuesday in Queens. On Wednesday, they remained at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

“I saw those sweet little children brought out of the house unconscious,'' neighbor Tom Colella told the Daily News. “It was heart-wrenching.''

Veronica Montero made a frantic 911 call at 4:54 a.m. Tuesday, screaming as flames enveloped the apartment.

“Please, I have two kids!'' she cried before falling unconscious.

Firefighters arrived moments later and found her unconscious sons, Carlos Montero Jr., 8, and Dylan, 6, who were huddled together near a window. She was also rescued.

Montero's husband, Carlos, jumped from a third-floor window and broke several bones.

“There was zero visibility,'' said Firefighter Mike Fitall of Ladder 142, who rescued the grandmother, Sarah Ching, 59.

Investigators believe someone in the apartment below flipped a cigarette onto furniture. Smoke alarms went off, but the blaze was moving too fast for the family to evacuate.

Carlos Montero's brother, Manuel Alvarez said he cried before rushing to the hospital.

“Don't worry, brother, I'll do what I can to help you,'' Alvarez told Montero. “He blinked. ... He understood what I said.''

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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