News Column

East Boston dad on time to save six from inferno

July 31, 2014

By Laurel J. Sweet, Boston Herald



July 31--Jonathan Rizzo said his bosses at Mittcom were cool yesterday about the fact he was late for work as the Needham ad agency's director of video production. His excuse? As told to the Herald's Laurel J. Sweet, the fact that he was running late was the reason Rizzo was able to get six people out, in-cluding his 2-year-old daughter, Valentina, when their five-unit East Boston apartment house on Sumner Street turned into a six-alarm inferno at 8:16 a.m., destroyed along with a house on Webster Street in what Fire Commissioner Joseph E. Finn said was an accidental electrical fire.

"I was late for work. I usually leave at 10 of eight. My daughter had just woken up. I woke my mom up because she's staying with us for a week while my wife is at a conference. She's a biologist for Children's Hospital -- research. She stands up and looks out the window and sees smoke coming up by the front window. She said, 'Is that smoke?' I looked out and it was billowing already. There were no alarms or anything. I ran downstairs and started yelling, 'Fire!' and I kicked in the front door."

Rizzo said the downstairs apartment of his neighbor, who had apparently already left for work, "was full of smoke. I couldn't even look in the door. Thick, black smoke. My mom's coming down the stairs with my daughter and she's yelling she can't see and she can't breathe because of the smoke. I ran up and brought them down the stairs. I'm yelling 'Fire!' the whole time. I go to run back in and my mom says, 'Don't do it. Don't go back in there.'

"I heard people upstairs yelling and I said, 'Fire, get out!' I ran around back and I kicked in a back door to try and see if she (the downstairs neighbor) was still in there and smoke pours out again, I see that my neighbors are out and I yell, 'Go get the hose' to spray in the front window where the fire was. I gave my mom my phone and said, 'Call 911.' "

Rizzo, 28, would be blessed twice that terrible morning. The Engine 9, Ladder 2 fire company was just yards away in Maverick Square.

"I ran down to the fire department and started yelling at them to come. 'Hurry up, guys, this is not a drill. Come on.' I said, 'Go, go, go!' They were as ready as they could be.

"You know, it happened so fast. I swear, if there was another 10 to 15 seconds, it would have been a whole different story. Nobody would have gotten out. It was so close, you have no idea. My computer, all my video stuff, my camera, my lenses ... gone. I'll tell you, it looks a lot slower in the movies."

___

(c)2014 the Boston Herald

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Source: Boston Herald (MA)


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