Two Children Tossed from NYC Blaze

Eleven family members were trapped in a horrific Brooklyn fire early yesterday that critically injured three children and an adult and forced a desperate grandfather to toss two kids out a second-floor window, the FDNY and witnesses said.

The family was asleep when the blaze broke out at 2:19 a.m. at 1001 Ocean Ave. in Flatbush.

"The fire went from bad to worse," said FDNY Lt. Victor Spadaro.

"As soon as water hit the fire, visibility went to zero," he said of the two-alarm inferno.

Chris Ganci, the son of hero firefighter Chief Peter Ganci who was killed leading the 9/11 rescue, was among the firefighters yesterday who helped save the victims.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking of my father," said Ganci, 31.

Ganci and his comrades from Engine 255 and Ladder 157 crawled through the pitch black to save three boys, Michael Fuentes, 14, Rene Palacios, 9, and Michael Palacios, 8, who had been asleep in a bedroom.

All three were in critical condition.

Michael's brother David Fuentes, 28, who was in another room, was also in critical condition.

The matriarch of the family, Rufina Fuentes, 52, was overcome by smoke and was in stable condition at Staten Island University Hospital.

Her husband, Pablo Fuentes, 55, was treated for injuries sustained when he leaped from a window.

The couple's daughter, Osbelia Fuentes, 22, who is seven months pregnant, said her little brother Michael was the most seriously injured, with burns over 85 percent of his body.

She was in another bedroom with son Eduardo, 4, and sister Dianna, 12, when she was awakened by screams and choking smoke coming from the living room where her parents were trying to put out the blaze with water buckets.

As the blinding smoke crept into the bedroom, Osbelia saw their chance to escape.

"I pushed the air conditioner out the window so the kids [Eduardo and Dianna] could get out" onto the fire escape, she said.

Jeremiah Harris, 22, was in the building lobby when he heard blood-curdling cries and glass shattering.

He raced to where Pablo Fuentes, the building's superintendent, was dangling his 18-month-old granddaughter, Amaya, out the window.

"Throw her down! Throw her down!" Harris shouted as a hysterical Fuentes let her drop.

"I knew I would catch her," he said after his heroic effort. "I knew I had to react fast.

"She came straight down quick, she didn't cry. Even when I caught her she didn't cry," said the hulking good Samaritan.

Moments later, a frenzied Fuentes swung his second grandchild, 10-year-old Kelsey, over the window ledge.

Two unidentified passers-by helped break her 20-foot fall as she hit the ground unharmed.

Republished with permission of The New York Post.

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