November 28, 2023

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A Hempstead Village apartment fire trapped a man on his balcony and prompted his adult son to jump to safety Monday in a fire that left at least four apartments uninhabitable, authorities said.

The two men and six others were taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and evaluation after an electrical fire started in a bedroom, village and fire officials said.

Flames were reported at 3:54 p.m. at 251 Jackson Ave., a six-floor apartment building across from village hall, officials said.

Residents recalled the lights going out just before the fire, said village Mayor Wayne Hall Sr.

“They went to turn on the circuit breaker and it popped, and the fire started,” said Hall, who added that he had lived there when he moved to the village in 1978.

Village officials, including Deputy Mayor Waylyn Hobbs, raced from their offices to the building, reaching it in advance of fire trucks.

Hobb said a father and his son were on their balcony, feet from the flames that had started in their second-floor bedroom and were shooting out a window.

“The flames were definitely right on their backs,” said Hobbs, also a Hempstead volunteer firefighter. “They were getting ready to jump. We convinced them not to jump, that the fire trucks were on their way.”

The father, who appeared to be in his 50s, stayed on his balcony, but his son, who appeared to be in his 20s, soon climbed onto an adjacent balcony, Hobbs said.

“He just hung there from the edge of the balcony,” he said.

In less than two minutes, a Hempstead Village fire truck arrived and a 20-foot ladder was propped up against the building to rescue the father, the deputy mayor said.

He said he and the village parks superintendent, George Sanders, climbed up to help the father down.

But before a second ladder could be propped up, the man’s son “dropped down into the arms of the police that were there,” Hobbs recounted. “They broke his fall.”

Hempstead police chief Scott Clark said the fire was under control some time before 5 p.m. and residents were allowed into the building again.

Eight people were taken to Winthrop-University Hospital and Nassau University Medical Center with minor injuries, officials said.

Clark said four were civilians, two were Hempstead Village police officers and two were Hempstead Village firefighters. All were expected to be released.


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