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'People (were) yelling that the baby was still inside': Firefighter recalls saving Brooklyn boy, 2, from burning house
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Firefighters gather at the Avenue P home where the fire erupted early Monday.Lt. Victor Milukas of Ladder 159 talks about rescuing the boy from the smoke-filled home.

A fearless firefighter with terrific instincts raced into a burning Brooklyn building Monday and saved a 2-year-old boy.

Lt. Victor Milukas said there was “zero visibility” and “high heat” and that he only had a general idea where little Justin Pierre might be as he searched the second floor of a Marine Park house.

“I just kind of took a chance and figured, ‘I’m gonna have to check this room,’” he said.

Milukas’ hunch proved right, and he found the unconscious toddler by feeling around beneath a clothes pile.

“To me it was a blur,” Milukas said afterward outside Ladder Co. 159 firehouse on the Flatlands-Marine Park border. “Luckily I was able to find the baby.”

Justin was at Staten Island University Hospital in a medically induced coma, but his dad says he expects his son will pull through.

“He’s critical, but the prognosis is much better,” said Jean Pierre, who is a registered nurse. “He only has a blister and smoke inhalation.”

Justin’s relieved dad said he was told the fire started in his son’s bedroom and was sparked by an electrical malfunction — possibly related to an air conditioner.

The drama on Avenue P began a little after 1 a.m. Monday.

Pierre, a married father of four, said he was at work at Maimonides Medical Center and that his oldest daughter smelled the smoke and alerted the family. He said in their rush to escape the building, Justin got overlooked.

“When my wife went back to get him the first time, the fire completely engulfed the place,” Pierre said.

Milukas said firefighters got the call at 1:13 a.m. and encountered a “very chaotic scene” and a house filled with smoke when they arrived.

“People (were) yelling that the baby was still inside,” he recalled. “There was a neighbor who had climbed up on a front porch roof and was attempting to enter the building by removing the air conditioner.”

Milukas said he first checked the rooms “where everyone said the baby was in.”

“As I was going down the hallway, I felt a lot of heat on my right,” he said. “My inside team at that point was searching the rear bedrooms. I made a quick search of the front bedroom and realized that this was a master bedroom and I couldn’t find the baby in there.”

Quickly, Milukas retraced his steps to the spot in the hallway where he felt the high heat. He burst inside a bedroom and found a mattress ablaze.

“I quickly found the wall again and got to a corner and there was a pile of clothes on the floor,” he said. “As I was searching the floor, I came across the (seemingly) lifeless infant.”

Milukas said scooping the boy up into his arms was “surreal.”

“I have kids of my own,” he said. “Your adrenaline goes up even more. Every life is precious, but you know, for a child, you go above and beyond.”

Milukas, an 18-year veteran of the FDNY who lives in East Rockaway, L.I., is no stranger to heroics.

In 2007, when Milukas was assigned to Ladder 142 in Queens, he saved a 45-year-old man from a burning building in Richmond Hill.

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  FDNY In The News

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