Paul Caruso helped save people

from a building fire in 2003



Two e-mails from Paul Caruso to Matts Ingemanson:



Saturday, January 25, 2003, 6:50 PM


Dear Matts:

       I am sitting here reeking of smoke. This is what happened, a few hours ago I decided to take a walk down the hill. I passed some antique stores, two story frame buildings with apartments above. A few minuets later while walking back I notice smoke coming from the roof, it first looked like a chimney back up type smoke but it was fire smoke. passing a store I told a girl standing in the doorway to call the fire dept. I then noticed a man running with a short ladder and a mattress to the side of the building. In the windows on the second floor were people calling for help, Dark smoke gushing out all around this woman. I first tried to pull a truck over and under the window, none passed by, Their was a lower building next door which the short ladder could have reached, but to my dismay there were no windows on that side. I yelled out to the woman in the window, "how many are trapped" her panic reply was five including children in the next room and her mother with her.

       PS we better start working!



Saturday, January 25, 2003, 11:49 PM


Dear Matts:

    Just arrived here in Ocean Grove, NJ.  Gail made me strip, put all clothes in hamper, jacket in garage, and hat in trunk of car, then into the shower, too much smoke!


    Ultimately the people on my side (it was a corner building) were taken down with fire truck extension ladders on a very slight angle, the lady over me was saved by the firemen using the ladder I was holding, the lady being quit heavy made it a slow descent.  It also took much time with the truck power extenuation. I don't know the faith of the lady's mother she never came to the window! More people were taken out on the other street, probably by the only stair case. That's were I saw one young laying on the ground getting oxygen.  Others on my side of building also lying in street, with smoke billowing every where Gail and I passed the tonight around 8:30 and 7 fire trucks were still there streets blocked and a lot of movement still going, on also an ambulance, I hope all firemen were OK.






24 hurt as fire damages Stapleton building







More than 100 firefighters from 33 units respond to 3-alarm blaze on Van Duzer Street





A suspicious fire raced through a two-story building in Stapleton yesterday, extensively damaging two businesses on the ground floor and displacing eight occupants of the upper level apartments.


More than 100 firefighters from 33 fire units in Staten Island and Brooklyn responded to the blaze at 379 and 381 Van Duzer St.


The three-alarm fire was largely contained to the basements of G&G Glass and Mirror as well as Victorian Country Store, which share the blond brick building on the corner of Beach and Van Duzer streets.


At least 19 firefighters and two civilians were treated and released from St. Vincent's Medical Center, West Brighton, said a hospital spokeswoman. Three additional civilians were admitted to the hospital, she said.


The injuries ranged from smoke inhalation to cuts and sprains, said Deputy Chief James Leonard of the Fire Department of New York's Division 8.


The building will not be inhabitable for the foreseeable future, said Leonard.


"It's going to take some renovation and. `repair to that building before it's livable, he said.


As the firefighters extinguished the blaze, they tore up much of the flooring, ceiling and walls of the first-floor businesses and the two apartments on the upper levels to ventilate the basement and search for fire, said Leonard.


"A lot of the stock was damaged due to water, smoke and heat," he added.




The cause of the fire is under investigation, said Leonard, noting it started in the basement. A fire of this magnitude is always labeled suspicious until the cause can be determined, he said.


The blaze, reported at 3:47 p.m. and under control by 4:56 p.m., drew throngs of neighbors and patrons of nearby stores outside.


Louisa DePaola, the owner of the Victorian Country, was eating a late lunch in her gift shop when smoke began to fill it.


Ms. DePaola, who lives by herself in one of the second floor apartments, escaped from the building quickly. Still, the Fire Department rescued' seven people,' said `Leonard.


Doug Dicks, an off-duty firefighter was relaxing at the Muddy Cup coffee shop with a couple of friends, when he caught sight of the commotion outside. At the time, several residents of the upper floor apartments were' hanging their heads out the windows.


Dicks bolted out of the coffee shop- located across the street and found a ladder in a backyard 'next: door to the burning building, he said. Then he propped it up against the ' side of the structure, climbed it and began to help a resident, down, said Dicks.


Police. Officer John Downey and-Sgt. Jack Santora of the ' Staten Island Task Force were the first official responders to the scene, they said.


When thy arrived, they found john Terry hanging out the window. The Port Richmond man had been watching television and catching up with some of his seven relatives who live in the other second-floor apartment, when his nephew came rushing into the apartment, reporting smoke from a hallway light bulb.




"So I went outside a 0d turned the light bulb, but that wasn't it," said Terry, warming himself in the Muddy C*, which the Fire Department used as a command post.


"Next thing you know somebody opened the door and all the smoke came in, the said.


Downey and Santora began to rescue Terry before fire companies descended on the scene. Eight or nine people were in the family's apartment, including his 80-year old mother, when the blaze began, said Terry.


The glass and mirror shop was not open, but Julie Tatum, who owns G&G with her husband, Glin, was across the street in her other business, Show Me Homes Realty.


Mrs. Tatum said she had just let the store's insurance lapse after the premiums went up by 20 percent. "We were shopping around," she said. Fortunately, she hadn't moved her real estate firm into the glass shop, which she was planning on doing before March.


"I don't feel too good. But what are you going to do? It's life," she said, an hour after the blaze was under control.


Meanwhile, at the Muddy Cup, the last of the attendees at a children's birthday party were packing up. Alexander and Nathaniel Seely were celebrating their fifth and third birthdays, respectively, when the fire sent some of the adults scurrying out 0f the coffee shop and into the action.


The Muddy Cup offered water, coffee and comfort t0 the people pouring out 0f the burning building.


Earlier in the day, about 60 firefighters from 10 Staten Island fire companies responded to a fire that damaged a two-family home in Graniteville. The first floor 0f Frank Marino's 14 Zeck Ct. home began burning at about 7:15 a.m. and was under control by roughly 8 a.m., said authorities.


He and a couple in their 20s who were renting the first floor were displaced.


Leonard of the Fire Department said that blaze accidentally started with some kind 0f beauty electrical item.


Jodi Lee Reifer is a news reporter for the Staten Island Advance. She can be reached at reifer@siadvance.




THE ROTARY CLUB OF NEW YORK 322 Eight Avenue , Suite 1701 New York, NY 10001

[About] [Officers] [History] [Events] [FeedBack] [Links] [Bulletin]