A "heroic" security guard suffered an excruciating death, being burned alive in an elevator on Christmas while trying to prevent an arson fire from spreading throughout a Queens apartment building.
The blaze inside a garbage cart that killed 32-year-old Raymond James was set by two 13-year-old boys, whom police charged with murder yesterday.
James had tried to take the burning cart out of the building in the Arverne section of Rockaway by bringing it downstairs in an elevator, but the fire accelerated, trapping and killing him in the car, authorities said.
Chief Fire Marshal Louis Garcia called James "a selfless, heroic individual who was trying to save lives of people in the building."
"It's a tragedy that this man died on Christmas Day," Garcia said. "I feel terrible. We feel for the family. It's unbelievable."
At about 8:50 p.m. Saturday, James was working an overtime shift at an 11-story apartment building at 146 Beach 59th St. As part of his duties, he would ride the elevator from the top floor down, collecting garbage from bins left out on each floor, authorities said.
At the same time, two boys who live in the building