Community Bands Together To Help Family Devastated By Blaze That Destroys Two Martense Street Homes
From an off-duty plumber rescuing two children trapped in a burning building to neighborhood businesses donating clothes, and, of course, the always courageous firefighters, our community immediately pulled together today to help a family left homeless by a devastating fire at 70 Martense Street, between Bedford and Flatbush Avenues.
Just before 11:30am Tuesday, Clancy Winchester was driving around the area when flames began to engulf two attached homes at 70 Martense Street — where DNAinfo reported that Clancy saw a woman frantically shouting “fire!”
Upon discovering there were still people inside, Clancy used a stick and rocks to break the windows he needed to enter the home and “raced around inside” to find the two kids trapped in a room, according to DNAinfo.
“I just did it. I just felt like I had to do it. I’m just happy I was there,” he told the news outlet.
Not long after Clancy saved the children, the FDNY said about 106 firefighters from 25 units arrived at the scene to battle the blaze that completely destroyed the two attached houses, where an extended family lived. The fire was under control at 12:04pm, and two firefighters sustained minor injuries, according to the FDNY.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, and it remains under investigation, the FDNY said.
While they were fighting the flames, the firefighters also managed to rescue a Shih Tzu puppy stuck inside the house, the New York Post reported.The Post wrote:
The pooch, which the family got from an uncle four days ago, is doing OK after he was rescued by firefighters and had an oxygen mask placed on him.
“That will be at least some saving grace for the family after a tragedy like this,” FDNY Battalion Chief Mike Golini said at the scene.
Lauren Elvers Collins, the executive director of the Church Avenue and Flatbush Avenue Business Improvement Districts, witnessed the tragic event.
Lauren wrote to us:
I was walking a half block away as one of the families from the building came running down the street: a mother holding her infant and several young children. None were wearing shoes, and they looked very frightened. They went into a nail salon on Flatbush Avenue off Church Avenue, where friends and extended family worked as they tried to contact the father who arrived fairly soon thereafter.
The children were shivering and one of the girls was crying, worrying where her dog was.
Immediately, Lauren said she and the other folk at the BIDs contacted Manager Sol Velelis and Assistant Manager Said at Cookies Department Store (986 Flatbush Avenue), as well as Chaim at the Fashion Size discount clothing store at 949 Flatbush Avenue — all of whom “quickly donated shoes, socks, and jackets for the kids; supplies and a soft blanket for the baby; and a warm sweater for the grandmother who had escaped with them and who had wrapped herself in a blanket that reeked of smoke,” Lauren wrote.
“Despite all the insanity, the children were polite and lovely,” the BID director continued. “One of the girls was quick to speak on behalf of the other kids and to help me decide who would like which of the shoes and jackets. It’s remarkable how resilient children can be.”
After the children and grandmother received their clothing, they were reunited with their dog — who Lauren mentioned had joined the family just last week.
“The oldest girl who had clearly taken on the role of being the dog’s caretaker explained to me that this soot-covered black dog was actually white,” said Lauren, who added that the BID provided dog food and a bowl from the BID’s Petland Discounts (968 Flatbush Avenue) and left it with her for safekeeping.
“The Red Cross arrived and will put the family up as they figure out what to do next,” Lauren wrote. “We wish the family the best.”
When we stopped by the Martense Street homes today, the family told us that while they are incredibly grateful that neighbors want to help them, they are not accepting any more donations at this time.
We too wish the best for the family, and we’ll keep you updated on whether or not the family needs anything at a later date.
Sign in or become a Bklyner member to join the conversation.