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Residents in illegally converted attic apartment saved from blaze
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Robert Stridiron

Three Queens residents’ lives were saved in an “amazing rescue” by firefighters who pulled them to safety through the window of an illegal attic apartment during a blaze Sunday, fire officials said.

“They would all have been dead,” FDNY Batallion Chief Robert Bohack Jr., said.

Firefighters were called to the scene at 101-51 107th St. in Richmond Hill around 7:45 a.m. for a fire that started on the second floor of what was legally considered a two-story building.

But first responders quickly realized residents were being illegally housed in the attic and would need to be rescued, an FDNY spokesman said.

Smoke eaters battled the flames from inside, by traveling up the interior stairs, and from the rear of the home, where firefighters used a ladder to access the attic through a small window.

The rescuers pulled three inhabitants from the smoke and carbon monoxide-heavy attic, officials said.

“We removed [the victims] from the attic through this little window…less than two feet-by-two feet,” Bohack said at the scene. “It was an amazing rescue.”

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In additional to the trio removed from the top floor, two others were evacuated from inside the building.

All five victims, including a child, were taken to Jamaica Medical Center and were expected to survive. A firefighter also sustained non-life threatening injuries, the spokesman said.

Buildings department inspectors determined the two-family home had been illegally converted into a five-family structure, with additional apartments in the cellar of the building, a DOB spokesman said. Officials immediately issued a vacate order due to the heavy damage throughout the building.

When confronted at the scene, a man identified as the building’s owner would not answer questions about the illegal conversion.

“It started on the second floor,” he said. “Everyone got out okay.”

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