Fire trucks and American flags lined a Staten Island street as thousands of mourners were expected to pay their respects to the FDNY veteran who died while searching for victims in a burning, cluttered high-rise apartment over the weekend.
Lt. Gordon "Matt" Ambelas, a 14-year FDNY veteran, died from smoke inhalation and burns he suffered in the Saturday night fire on Wilson Street in Williamsburg.
The wake for the father of two is being held Tuesday and Wednesday on Staten Island. His funeral will be Thursday.
"He would always come in prepared and ready to work," said FDNY Lt. Matthew Komorowski. "He would always have a smile on his face."
Ambelas had been promoted to lieutenant 10 months ago. Throughout his career he helped the city through its darkest hours, including the recovery from 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy. Most recently, he was honored for helping rescue a child who was stuck in a rolling gate in Brooklyn.
"Matt was a simple man," said firefighter Eric Bischoff. "He enjoyed very simple pleasures, being around friends and doing his job as a New York City firefighter."
The medical examiner's office has determined that Ambelas died from smoke inhalation and burns he suffered in the Williamsburg fire.
The fire, which was ruled accidental, started in an air conditioner electrical cord pinched between a bed frame and a wall.
His death was the department's first in the line of duty in more than two years.
The FDNY has established an education fund for Ambelas' daughters, ages 5 and 8. Donations may be mailed to:
The FDNY Foundation
9 MetroTech Center
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Checks should be made to the "Ambelas Children's Education Fund."