New York firefighter dies in cluttered
apartment in burning high-rise
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[July 07, 2014]
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York City
firefighter recently honored for saving the life of a young boy was
killed battling an electrical blaze at a high-rise building that began
in a dangerously cluttered apartment, officials said on Sunday.
Gordon Matthew Ambelas, 40, a 14-year veteran of the Fire
Department of New York, was among more than 100 firefighters who
responded to the fast-moving blaze at the Brooklyn building late on
Saturday, officials said.
Ambelas was searching the 19th floor for trapped residents when he
was overcome by flames and smoke, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
said in a late night press conference.
The fire was ruled accidental and started in an air conditioning
unit electrical cord pinched between a bed frame and a 19th floor
apartment wall, fire officials said on Sunday.
The apartment was heavily cluttered with debris and belongings in
what fire officials called "Collyers' conditions,"named after two
brothers who became trapped and died under the rubbish hoarded in
their New York apartment in 1947. "These conditions make searches of
a fire apartment extremely difficult and dangerous for responding
firefighters," Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a statement.
Four other people were injured in the blaze, fire officials said.
"We've lost a real hero tonight and our hearts are heavy," de Blasio
said. "Unfortunately tonight one of New York's bravest has paid the
ultimate price and we all mourn his loss."
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Ambelas, a married father of two children, was honored in June for
helping to save the life of a 7-year-old Brooklyn boy whose head and
arm became stuck in a rolling gate, pulling the child 15 feet (4.6
meters) off the ground.
The last New York City firefighter to die in the line of duty was in
2012, according to fire officials.
(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Additional reporting by Ellen
Wulfhorst; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Ellen Wulfhorst and
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