2004-01-09 / Front Page

Verizon Workers Rescue Family

Verizon Workers Rescue Family

The rescuers, from l to r, Robert Jaycox, Christian Mora and Charles Willis.The rescuers, from l to r, Robert Jaycox, Christian Mora and Charles Willis.

A family of seven was rescued from their burning Bayswater home by three courageous Verizon workers on a recent weekend morning.

The fire broke out in the family’s rented apartment in a three-story home at 11-40 Bayport Place, but no one inside knew, according to the Verizon men.

December 21 was a typical Sunday morning – quiet, nobody out-and-about, the men said, no passersby, the street free of automobile traffic. But inside the home, flames and smoke began to circulate on the second and third floors.

It was just about 11:30 a.m. when Robert Jaycox, a field technician, first noticed the smoke off in the distance. He was standing outside the Verizon central office just a few blocks away.

Jaycox called to his two coworkers, Charles Willis, the chief steward of the company’s Laurelton garage and Christian Moran, another field technician.

"The entire third floor was engulfed... smoke was pouring out of the windows," Willis said. "We took off running down the block [towards the house]." Willis and Moran dashed towards the home; Jaycox called 911 to report the fire, and then joined them.

Willis and Moran said they knew the house was occupied as soon as they got a clear look at it. They quickly broke down the front door. Then they reached the door to the second floor apartment, where the family was, and burst through that one too.

Inside, they said, the family was asleep. The men began shouting for them to get up and evacuate, but there was a moment of confusion that could have cost everyone his or her life. The parents were slow to wake, and were confused by the hectic scene and the strangers in their home, the men said.

It was unclear if the there was a language barrier between the adults and their rescuers.

Meanwhile, the kids woke up but were dressed in their sleep clothes, and were also unsure what to do, the men said.

"The house was going up like a match," Willis said, adding that the second floor was filling with smoke and fire was spreading on the walls. They had to move fast. One of the men grabbed two of the children and began taking them out of the house and across the street to safety. When the family saw this, they realized that the situation must be dangerous and started to leave, the men said. They grabbed coats and blankets on their way out.

The men determined that the rest of the house was empty, and exited just as the police arrived.

"By the time we left you could barely see on the second floor," Jaycox recalled

According to a spokesperson, firefighters reached at the "all hands" blaze within 10 minutes of the 911 call. Some 12 units, 60 firefighters, brought the fire under control in about 20 minutes, the spokesperson said.

The family took refuge at a nursing home across the street where some were given oxygen for possible smoke inhalation, and were later taken to a Red Cross facility, the men said.

The Wave contacted the owner of the property who declined to share information regarding the family’s whereabouts.

Meanwhile, the three brave Verizon workers, who said they returned to work after the incident, could receive special recognition from their company.

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