FDNY Lt. Michael Demeo, firefighter John Rocchio and probationary firefighter Marlon Sahai, broke down the door to the women’s first-floor apartment on St. Mark’s Place near First Avenue after being told that six people were trapped inside around 8 a.m.
“There was a lot of smoke,” Demeo said. “You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.”
The lieutenant went past the inferno in the living room and had to feel his way through the home, searching for victims.
He found one of the two unconscious women, who are in their 20s, about 2 feet from the window, right next to their beds. Sahai found the other woman lying nearby.
“We broke open a window so the visibility cleared up a little,” Demeo said.
Demeo and Rocchio brought one victim out into the street, and the rookie, who has fought fires since December, carried out the second woman, officials said.
“They did not look good,” said neighbor Joel Neri, 44. “It looked like they were unconscious. Firefighters got them out quickly.”
A third victim, an unidentified man, jumped from a first-floor window and received minor injuries.
The two women, whose names were not released, were hospitalized in serious condition with smoke inhalation, according to the FDNY. One of them suffered burns as well. Both were expected to survive. The man refused medical treatment.
The cause of the fire is unclear, but sources said investigators are focusing on the theory that smoking may have caused the couch to burst into flames.