Quick thinking teen helps avert fire disaster


Neighbors are calling two Riverdalians heroes for rescuing a baby and his great-grandmother from a Jan. 30, fire at an apartment building at 445 West 240th Street.

Dozens of fire fighters extinguished the fire before it spread from the apartment the great-grandmother was in to the rest of the building, according to the FDNY. Neither residents nor emergency personnel sustained injuries from the blaze.

“Everybody on the floor was extremely helpful to my wife’s grandmother and my son,” said Sgt. Shaun Garrett, a police officer who lives at the site of the fire.

Sgt. Garrett singled out 16-year-old Jack Dailey and Paula Cedeño, 74, for their efforts.

Jack, a junior at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, said it all began while he was standing in his hallway after school because he forgot the key to his apartment.

He said he smelled smoke around 4:45 p.m., so he went from door to door asking neighbors about the source. When he reached apartment 7D, a 76-year-old woman babysitting her two-year-old great-grandson said she did not know where the smoke was coming from. But Jack said after entering the apartment and opening the door to a bedroom, smoke came billowing out.

“I was in such shock. I didn’t fully understand yet that it was my building on fire,” Jack recounted. “You hear about these things, but you never really think what you would do.”

Jack had the presence of mind to call 911.

Meanwhile, Ms. Cedeño, who had smelled the smoke herself, came to apartment 7D and helped the apparently dazed great-grandmother out.

Ms. Cedeño went on to bang on neighbors’ doors, going to each floor, while Sgt. Garrett’s relation followed Jack into another neighbor’s apartment.

As thick, black smoke filled the hallway, Jack said the great-grandmother along with the baby and two other residents went onto a fire escape, where the group handed the baby to Jack.

“She didn’t want to have the baby back because it was so high up and there was barely any support,” Jack said of the great-grandmother. “I just held the baby the rest of the time.”

As Jack and the group on the seventh-floor fire escape waited for rescuers, other residents joined Ms. Cedeño in warning neighbors to evacuate.

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