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Man Saves Child by Jumping from Burning Elmhurst Home, Neighbors Say

By Katie Honan | June 11, 2014 8:49am
 The two-alarm fire broke out Monday night about 9 p.m., according to the FDNY.
The two-alarm fire broke out Monday night about 9 p.m., according to the FDNY.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

ELMHURST — A man jumped out a second-floor window clutching a young neighbor to escape a fire that ripped through their homes Monday night — saving the boy but breaking both his legs in the fall, relatives said.

The blaze started about 9 p.m. at 43-22 Judge St. and raged for nearly an hour before firefighters brought it under control, according to the FDNY. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, fire officials said.

During the blaze, Roberto Lopez, 23, leaped from his second floor-apartment while holding a young boy who lived in another apartment at the house, according to his brothers Jose, 21, and Vladimir, 17, who were not home at the time. 

They landed in the backyard of the house, with Lopez breaking both legs and the boy, who neighbors said was about 10 years old, suffering only minor injuries, according to the Lopez's brothers. 

Both were taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where Lopez was recovering Tuesday afternoon, his brothers said.

The FDNY said three people were rushed to the hospital for serious and minor injuries, but they didn't have any more information available. Two others were treated, but not hospitalized.

Officials with the American Red Cross said they helped 29 people affected by the fire, which hit 10 units in three buildings.

Two violations were issued in 2011 for illegally converting the legal two-family home for six families, according to Department of Buildings records. Both violations were dismissed and the certificate of occupancy was changed to a three-family, according to DOB records.

A full vacate order was issued for the house in the wake of the fire due to fire and water damage.

Denise Marin, 12, was home in the basement apartment when her younger sister, Citiali, smelled smoke Monday night.

"Everybody was screaming, and we has to go in the backyard," Citiali, 8, said.

"Right now, we don't know where we're going to go," Denise added. They're currently staying at a hotel in Brooklyn, but may move in with relatives in New Jersey.

Neighbor John Beirne, 71, said he smelled smoke and saw huge flames shooting out of the front door of the house.

"The fire was coming out the front door," he said. "So that was probably [Lopez's] only option."

The landlord could not be reached for comment.