Yonkers Firefighter Killed Leaping From House Fire

By Rebecca Baker, Ernie Garcia, Randi Weiner and Rob Ryser • egarcia@lohud.com • October 2, 2009

YONKERS — A 39-year-old city firefighter died today and two of his colleagues were seriously injured as they searched for tenants in an early morning house fire, officials said.

Patrick Joyce, a father of two girls and a 16-year veteran of the department, either jumped or fell from the top floor of the burning 2 -story multi-family home and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The 1 a.m. fire at 149 Waverly St. is suspicious, city fire Commissioner Anthony Pagano said, because it was fully involved in two locations at the home.

Firefighter Patrick Joyce

“It’s like losing a brother,” Assistant Fire Chief George Kielb said through tears. “You never want to go through it again.”

Two colleagues — 54-year-old Lt. Joe Murray and 12-year veteran firefighter William Kanych, 39 — were in serious but stable condition at Jacobi Medical Center, Pagano said.

Murray, who joined the force in 1982, had broken ribs and second-degree burns on his hands and is expected to undergo surgery for the rib fractures, city officials said. Kanych had a broken ankle, cracked vertebrae and burns on his face and neck.

Pagano called Joyce a “fearless and dedicated” man who gave his life today in an effort to save others.

“There were reports that people were trapped inside and the crew he was with acted immediately,” Pagano said.

“It went up like a blowtorch,” Kielb said of the blaze.

Jose Colon, a 16-year-old neighbor, said he saw this morning's fire explode
inside the tall, narrow vinyl-sided house and watched as the firefighters
jumped for their lives.

"It looked like somebody threw a bomb through the window," he said. "I heard
people screaming."

Everyone in the home escaped before anyone was injured, the fire department said.

Firefighters brought the blaze under control about 2:30 a.m.Back

Firefighters gathered outside Joyce's home on Hutchinson Boulevard in Eastchester late this morning but declined to speak to a reporter. They said his family was not home.

At the nearby house of his brother, Peter, also a Yonkers firefighter, a neighbor, Bobbi Lagana, said, "It's so sad. Everybody's upset."

At the Eastchester Fire Department, the flag was flying at half-staff. Firefighters there said they were aware of the tragedy but were waiting for information on arrangements before commenting. They said Joyce was a very popular man, and said they were concerned for his small children and family.

As dawn broke, stunned neighbors in Nodine Hill stood outside and shook
their heads at the the latest inferno to plague their street. Three
multifamily buildings went up in flames on Waverly Street in 2005, including
a still-damaged yellow house directly across from today's fatal fire.

As police officers consoled firefighters at the scene this morning, fire
investigators roamed through the charred wreckage searching for clues. The
fire has been declared suspicious.

The Red Cross is helping a total of 15 people in four families with emergency lodging, clothing and food. City officials said a total of 17 people were displaced by the fire.

The owner of record for the home is Esther Ugbogbo, who was listed as living at the Waverly Street address. City records show she purchased it on Sept. 11, 2007, and that there are no outstanding code violations there.

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