2007-08-10 / Letters

Two Modest Heroes

Dear Editor,

It's hard to find a person who is willing to put their life on the line to help others. I happen to be very fortunate and know two people that are exactly that way. With the quick thinking and selflessness of them both, I believe they prevented a tragedy.

On Friday night, August 3, at approximately 8:30 p.m., my boyfriend John Norton Jr., Firefighter Kevin Adams of Engine 48 and myself were en route to meet friends in Long Beach.

We were traveling eastbound on Beach Channel Dive when the boys noticed smoke coming from behind the Belle Harbor Yacht Club.

The wind was blowing off the bay, keeping the smoke away from the building so that unfortunately no one inside knew about the fire. John immediately turned on Beach 125 Street and down Beach 126 to see the rear wall of an addition to the Yacht Club in flames.

Kevin ran out of the truck and into the front of the building, John ran to the fire, and I called 911.

When Kevin entered the bar there was a party of about 100 people there, he told the bartenders that the building was on fire, instructed them to evacuate and made certain that no one was in the upper three floors of the Yacht Club.

He immediately proceeded through the kitchen into the back area and located the fire. Using a fire extinguisher he began to spray the windows/ wall with a fan technique to keep the fire from advancing into the storage room.

Kevin could hear John on the other side of the wall screaming to a Yacht club employee to get a hose; they began to spray the flames, helping to extinguish the fire from the outside. After keeping the fire at bay for about three to four minutes the wind changed direction, the windows in the interior wall blew out, forcing fire and smoke into the room where Kevin was. Smoke filled the room from ceiling to floor level making Kevin unable to see or breathe. Unaware that the opening of the room had been covered with a door that had been pulled off its hinges in an attempt to keep the smoke out of the bar, he began using his hands to feel out where he thought the opening to the kitchen was.

Becoming disoriented, he pounded on the walls until he felt the hollow sound of the door, pulled it away, went through the kitchen where he saw another off duty fire fighter and continued to the outside of the building.

Upon leaving, he noticed Engine 268 and Ladder 137 were arriving on scene.

He informed the officer of Engine 268 and Ladder 137 what direction the fire was, that no civilians were left inside and helped Engine 268 hook up to a hydrant.

Due to the fact that we all had made prior commitments to friends he refused medical care and neglected to tell Battalion 47 Chief O'Neill what actions he had taken.

They are too modest to inform the Rockaway community about what they did to protect the lives of their fellow Rockaway residents; however, I am happy to tell everyone the story and that they are heroes in my eyes.

STEPHANIE BELLOMO

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