Fire ravages Ocean Ave. apts.

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Fire Department investigators are trying to determine what sparked a raging two-alarm fire on Ocean Avenue that injured over a dozen people and left an area family homeless.

Officials said that seven residents from the second-floor apartment, including three children, suffered serious injuries in the scramble to escape the 2:19 a.m. blaze at the corner of Ocean and Newkirk avenues on July 1.

Three firefighters from Engine 255 on Snyder Avenue and three area police officers also suffered injuries as they escorted the residents down the fire escape, officials said.

Witnesses said that at least one of the residents jumped from a second-story apartment to escape the flames.

Another resident tossed her baby out of a window to rescuer Estaban Pagan, 38, a neighbor who rushed to help as he saw flames coming from the windows.

Among the residents pulled from the building were 22-year-old Osbelia Fuentes, nine-year-old Kelsey Fuentes, 14-year-old Diana Fuentes and seven-year-old Rene Fuentes, witnesses said.

Their injuries ranged from smoke inhalation and respiratory failure to serious burns, according to firefighters. They were treated at area hospitals.

Also injured were three firefighters from Engine 255 and cops from the 70th Precinct who raced to the scene after hearing about the fire on their dispatch radios.

When the cops reached the scene, members of Engine 255 were already there, but that didn’t stop them from racing up the fire escape to help pull some of the victims to safety.

“It appears that the flames blocked the door,” said one source. “The residents had no choice but to come down the fire escape.”

Firefighters who entered the apartment had to crawl on the ground under the billowing smoke to locate and retrieve the remaining victims.

By late Tuesday, the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

Updated 3:46 pm, October 19, 2011
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