NYPD officers save residents from building fire in Chinatown

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Members of the NYPD performed a heroic fire rescue in Manhattan earlier this month.

The cops carried older residents from their apartments as smoke began to fill the building. It happened on Elizabeth Street in Chinatown, right across the street from the NYPD’s 5th Precinct.

The officers described it as a total team effort. Many of them ran out of the station house and into the building that was on fire. The rescues were caught on the officers’ body-worn cameras.

One after one, the cops physically carried out a 99-year-old woman, a 91-year-old woman, and a 96-year-old man. They all live above a tea shop, which went up in flames on Dec. 18 around 9 p.m.

“We knew it was time to do what we do as police officers,” said Sgt. William Finan.

The officers called for the FDNY but knew they only had seconds to spare before the residents could become trapped.

“We had to get the people out. We weren’t going to wait. I thought of my own mother standing at the door and I wanted her out,” said Sgt. Jeremy Banfield.

Each officer assisted the other in making the six-story evacuation, which they completed in the minutes before firefighters arrived.

“I felt the glass, it’s hot and intense. That’s when the sergeant went in, and I followed them [all],” said detective Rodney Rosado.

They triaged the trio inside the precinct, though everyone refused medical attention because of the officers’ quick reactions.

“There isn’t fear. It’s I gotta get to work and do what I can because other lives are at risk. Get the job done and get everyone out of here,” said Sgt. William D’Ottavio.

D’Ottavio used to work for the Emergency Services Unit, which gives the cops firefighter training as well. However, in this instance, they only had their uniforms.

Yvonne Lei’s grandmother was one of the people the officers saved.

“She was really shaken by it. She knew what was happening and was glad someone was there for her,” Lei said. “I just want to thank the NYPD for putting themselves out there and rescuing everyone.”

It’s believed the fire started in the restaurant’s ice machine.

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