The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Tragic History at 109 Winthrop

The Q moved into Lefferts in 2003, so I hadn't heard of the terrible story at the corner of Winthrop and Bedford, the vacant lot I mentioned in the last post. The parcel was apparently sold in January, so we should expect an apartment building of some sort.

But the events of January back in 2001 are retold in a NY Daily News piece:

With flames licking at his feet, Sammy Williams was forced to make a terrible choice yesterday. Intense smoke and fire were forcing him off the porch roof of a Brooklyn house, where he stood with his 81-year-old mother, Ezerlene Armstrong. His screams for help were going unanswered - but he didn't want to throw his mother off the roof because that, the 46-year-old Flatbush truck driver believed, "would kill her automatically."
So Williams left his mother and jumped. He landed safely on the roof of a nearby car. But the flames thwarted firefighters' rescue efforts, and, tragically, Armstrong and Stephanie Livingston, Williams' 35-year-old fiancee, perished in the early morning blaze. "I've lost my baby," Williams sobbed. Investigators said the blaze broke out about 5:30 a.m. on the porch of the three-story house at 109 Winthrop St. and quickly spread to two alarms. Passersby alerted the occupants that the building was burning. Livingston died a heroine, investigators said, after running upstairs to rouse a boarder, who was rescued by firefighters with only seconds to spare. As fire engulfed the building, Livingston dashed up to the third floor and banged on tenant Samuel Hill's door. "We've got a serious fire here!" she screamed. "As soon as I opened the door, I felt the heat from the fire; the smoke was just overwhelming," said Hill, 54. He handed her one of three flashlights he kept by his bed and took another for himself. "You can't go back down!" Hill shouted. "The smoke is so intense.

" It was so thick, he remembered, he could only make out her hand. "She said to me, her last words were: 'I've got to try to go back down. "I never saw her again," Hill said. Hill barricaded himself in the kitchen, then kicked out a window screen and climbed out onto a ledge. He waved his flashlight urgently at an approaching fire truck. "You better hurry!" he yelled. Firefighter Joe Scarazzino climbed the truck's ladder and rescued Hill. "About 30 seconds later, the fire shattered all the windows, and that would have been it," said Firefighter Carlos Font. Deputy Chief Charles Blaich said investigators believe the fire started beneath a small freezer on the porch. The freezer had been sitting on an extension cord, probably for years, and over time the cord's wiring was exposed, sparking an electrical short, he explained. Later, Williams was asked why his fiancee would have risked going back down the smoke-filled staircase. "I guess she was just worried about me," he replied.


Shay Houston said...

I remember this fire. I was in my second year at the nearby Erasmas Hall High school. It was regents week, so I had time to jump off the 12 bus on Clarkson ave. and pick up some Snacks from the corner store.
Bedford avenue was covered with fire trucks and the smell was overwhelming. The house was terribly destroyed.

Anonymous said...

I will never forget this day on the 18th of January 2001 my whole world was turned upside down a my heart was no longer around I lost my best friend who was also my mom no one like her that I can recall she was all I had now she's gone it seems like it was just yesterday she was holding me in her arms but I know she's watching over me and I will always remain strong I miss her dearly can't wait to see her again she had a heart of gold and she will give her last no matter who you are she always had your back as time go on and years go by it's still hard keep these tears dropping from my eyes you truly missed never forgotten and always loved your daughter