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Author
Michael R. Sisak
Date
July 6, 2014

NYC firefighter killed battling Brooklyn blaze

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NEW YORK (AP) — A blaze broke out on an upper floor of a Brooklyn public-housing high-rise Saturday, trapping a New York City fire lieutenant who was overcome by smoke and later died.

Lt. Gordon Ambelas, 40, died at a hospital late Saturday night after the he was pulled from the building unconscious, said department spokesman Frank Gribbon. Ambelas was pronounced dead at Woodhull Medical Center just after 11 p.m.

It is the department’s first line of duty death in more than two years and the 18th since 343 firefighters perished in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Two other firefighters were treated at Bellevue Hospital for minor injuries. Two residents received treatment at the scene for minor injuries.

Ambelas was among the firefighters honored last month for helping to save a 7-year-old boy who became trapped in a roll-down gate in May. The boy was pulled 15 feet off the ground when his arm and head got stuck.

Ambelas said at the time that the incident “shows that FDNY members are always ready to help others. It was great teamwork all around.”

The fire broke out around 9:30 p.m. Saturday in an apartment on the 19th floor of a 21-floor building in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. The building is part of the six-building Independence Towers complex owned by the New York City Housing Authority.

It quickly went to a second-alarm as flames spread to the 17th and 18th floors.

A mayday call came over the fire radio just after 10 p.m., followed by a report 20 minutes later that a firefighter had gone into in cardiac arrest and was being taken to Woodhull.

Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived at the hospital around midnight. He and Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro confirmed the death to reporters at the hospital.

Ambelas is the first in New York City to die in the line of duty since Lt. Richard A. Nappi was killed fighting a Brooklyn warehouse blaze in April 2012.

A police officer, Dennis Guerra, died in April after he and his partner were overcome by smoke and carbon monoxide while responding to a mattress fire on the 13th floor of a Coney Island public housing complex.

Guerra’s partner, Rosa Rodriguez, is recovering after more than a month in the hospital.

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