Cause of Morrisania house fire that injured 8, including a baby, still unknown

Robbie Sequeira | December 20, 2022

Fire officials are still unsure what caused a Dec. 19 Morrisania house fire that concealed 1243 Tinton Avenue in thick billowy smoke and blazing flames that injured eight and needed more than 100 firefighters to contain that Friday morning.

However, fire officials and Morrisania residents are thankful Friday didn’t end in tragedy — an all too familiar scene for fire-prone Bronx neighborhoods — as an effort by first responders at the local EMS station lead to the rescue of a mother and her 1-year-old son, who was trapped inside.

FDNY officials say the fire started around 6:15 a.m. on the second floor of an apartment building near East 169th Street and had already spread next door by the time first responders arrived.

Members of EMS Station 26 told the Bronx Times they smelled smoke coming from the rear of their Boston Road fire station when a 65-year-old man named Gerald Richards informed paramedics that his house was ablaze.

“They suddenly smelled smoke in the station. Upon investigation they noticed smoke coming in from the back door,” said Oren Barzilay, president of FDNY EMS union Local 2507. “That’s when a civilian ran up to one of our paramedics, saying his house was on fire. One of our EMTs knew the residents personally and made it known that there was a baby and mother that live in there.”

Richards said he lived at the residence with his son, daughter-in-law, and grandson — 24-year-old Carrie Andrews and her baby Jason — and that he escaped the flames by jumping out of the back bedroom window. But Andrews was unable to do the same.

EMTs from Station 26 — known as the ‘Tin House” — Joel Rosado, EMTs Vincent Rebolledo, Jazmin Bourdier, Jose Lemus, Brandon Camacho and Christopher Love, and Paramedics Jonathan Silvera and Mark Gioffre, took out a first floor window and helped rescue a 65-year-old man and four dogs trapped on the ground floor, Barzilay said.

But upon doing a visual search, they were able to hear the baby’s cries but unable to locate the 1-year-old as thick smoke clouded their vision.

“EMT’s saw the baby’s bed but not the baby,” Barzilay said. “Two EMTs entered the second floor window with another EMT on the ladder outside of the window, but the members were still unable to locate the mother and baby.”

When firefighters from Intervale Avenue’s FDNY Engine 82/Ladder 31 team arrived, firefighters found Andrews unconscious and brought her outside to a waiting ambulance. Captain Dan O’Shea then found the baby unconscious under blankets in a smoke-filled room.

Andrews and her son were rushed to the hospital in critical condition but are expected to survive their injuries.  Additionally, five EMS workers were treated for minor injuries due to smoke inhalation.