After Last Week’s Fire, Silver Urges NYCHA to Fix Gas Outage at Smith Houses

Firefighters rescued residents from the Smith Houses last week.

One week ago, residents of the Smith Houses were displaced when a fire broke out in an eighth floor apartment at 388 Pearl Street.  In the days that followed, people living in the large public housing development have contended with persistent gas outages. 159 apartments are without service.

This morning we’ve received a copy of a letter State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver sent to John Rhea, head of the NYC Housing Authority, about the situation. 

Video: Uncle Rescues Toddler From Fire at Smith Houses

Investigators have concluded an unattended candle burning an eighth floor apartment caused yesterday morning’s fire at 388 Pearl. This morning the New York Post has home video showing the heroic rescue of a toddler by William Febow, his uncle. The fire, at the Alfred E. Smith Houses, sent five people to the hospital with minor injuries.

Febow jumped from a window onto a Fire Department ladder, and then waited for the boy’s mother to pass him down, where firefighters met both of them.  Febow told the Post, “Justine handed me the baby from the window. We just needed to get him to safety. I was scared for my life but I did what I had to do it to protect my family.”

Follow-up: This Morning’s Fire at 388 Pearl Street

Emory Morel is held by his uncle, Willis Febow, following today's fire. Photo: Seth Gottfriend/New York Post.

Here’s more on this morning’s fire at the Alfred E. Smith Houses. According to NY1,  Six people were taken to area hospitals.  Flames erupted around 7:30 in an apartment on the 8th floor at 388 Pearl Street.

The New York Post tells the story of 22-year old Willis Febow, who escaped out a window with his nephew, a toddler, clinging to his neck.  Febow began making his way down a ladder; firefighters met him halfway. “I was told that my daughter, Justine, and my grandson, Emory, were hanging outside of their window and I nearly had a heart attack,” the boy’s grandmother, Judith Hernandez, told the Post.  “All I can say is thank you Lord, thank you for keeping them safe.”

Another resident, 29-year old Elvis Diaz, said he was awakened by his sister. “She was yelling fire, fire and I looked out my window and there was smoke coming out of my building and I freaked out,” he recounted.

NY1 reported that one man tried to jump to safety without assistance. Battalion Chief Ron Schmutzler said, “The man was actually on the window sill. He had bed sheets tied together, ready to slide down the bed sheets. We had the ladder companies and the engine companies going up the interior of the building trying to make a push down the hallway.”

Investigators have not determined the cause of the fire.


Three Rescued From Smith Houses After Early Morning Fire

Firefighters rescued residents from the Smith Houses this morning. Photo: WCBS.

At least three people were rescued from the Alfred E. Smith Houses this morning, after a fire broke out in either a sixth or eighth floor apartment (there are conflicting reports).  Firefighters were called to the scene, at 388 Pearl Street, around 7:45 a.m.  According to WCBS, one of those rescued had to crawl through a window and climb down a Fire Department ladder. The New York Red Cross responded, and provided assistance to four residents. We hear that State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver also has staff at Smith to offer translation services. There are no reports of life threatening injuries.