New York First Responders Take Extraordinary Steps to Help Residents

Four Dead as Snow Storm Covers New York

Fatalities, stranded motorists around Buffalo as storm dumps over four feet of snow
CAROLYN THOMPSON, Associated Press Published Wednesday, November 19, 2014

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Four people died during a storm that dumped more than 4 feet of snow around Buffalo and forced motorists in 150 vehicles, including a women's basketball team, to ride it out on a day when temperatures dropped to freezing or below in all 50 states.

One person was killed in an automobile accident and three others had heart attacks, including two believed to be shoveling snow at the time, Erie County officials said.

The snowstorm stranded cars, trucks and buses on a four-mile section near Buffalo. By late Tuesday night, many — but not all — had been freed.

Some motorists had had been trapped for nearly 24 hours. Officials said freeing the vehicles was delayed after two tractor-trailers jack-knifed as they were being moved.

"It seemed like a nightmare. It just didn't feel like it was going to end," Bryce Foreback, 23, of Shicora, Pennsylvania told The Associated Press by cellphone 20 hours into his wait for help. "I haven't slept in like 30 hours and I'm just waiting to get out of here."

Members of the Niagara University women's basketball team were napping on and off 17 hours into their wait. Some got so thirsty they drank melted snow, said Coach Kendra Faustin, who was traveling with her 1-year-old.

Team spokeswoman Chelsea Andorka said the bus, with about 25 players and coaches aboard, was headed back from a loss in Pittsburgh when it came to a halt at 2 a.m. Tuesday.

"We were told the National Guard was coming by but haven't seen any signs of life," Andorka said. "The first time they came they told us to be prepared to stay for a while. One tow truck passed six or seven hours ago."

In a region accustomed to highway-choking snowstorms, this one is being called one of the worst in memory. Snow blown by strong winds forced the closing of a 132-mile stretch of the Thruway, the main highway across New York state.

Meteorologists say temperatures in all 50 states fell to freezing or below on Tuesday. They say the low temperatures were more reminiscent of January than November.

In New Hampshire and elsewhere, icy roads led to accidents. Lake-effect storms in Michigan produced gale-force winds and as much as 18 inches of snow, and canceled several flights at the Grand Rapids airport.

Schools closed in the North Carolina mountains amid blustery winds and ice-coated roads. In Indiana, three firefighters were hurt when a semitrailer hit a fire truck on a snowy highway.

In Atlanta, tourists Morten and Annette Larsen from Copenhagen were caught off-guard by the 30-degree weather as they took photos of a monument to the 1996 summer Olympics at Centennial Olympic Park.

"It's as cold here as it is in Denmark right now. We didn't expect that," Larsen said, waving a hand over his denim jacket, buttoned tightly over a hooded sweatshirt.

In Buffalo, Brian Krzeminski watched the snow pile up outside the south Buffalo convenience store where he worked overnight and served free coffee to the motorists and pedestrians who came in off the city streets to get out of the blinding snow.

"There are people that came out to get a few things. We had some people who came in just to get a 30-pack of beer, which is kind of odd," he said. "We've had EMTs whose ambulance got stuck. I'm constantly seeing cars get stuck."

The National Weather Service warned that the snow, generated by cold air blowing over the warmer Great Lakes, would continue through Wednesday and could eventually total 6 feet in places. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo deployed 150 member of the National Guard to help clear snow-clogged roads and remove abandoned vehicles.

"We have tried to get out of our house and we are lucky to be able to shovel so we can open the door. Basically, that's it, open the door," said Linda Oakley of Buffalo. "We're just thinking that in case of an emergency we can at least get out the door. We can't go any further."

"All around us, it's a solid 4 feet of snow that is so thick and so heavy you can hardly move it with a shovel," said Oakley, whose son Todd was with her, unable to make it to work just three miles away.

Jim Lehmann was hunkering down with his wife in their town of Hamburg home, while outside his neighbor's house was barely visible through the blowing snow.

"The main thing to do now is sit in the house and wait it out," Lehmann said. "My neighbor works for a satellite dish company and he tried to get out this morning and he got stuck 80 feet down the street. And he was there for three hours."

The town of West Seneca recorded 45 inches by late morning and Alden, to the east, had 48 inches. But typical of lake-effect snow, areas just a few miles away, including downtown and north Buffalo, had just a couple of inches.

At one point, nearly half of West Seneca's plows were bogged down in heavy snow, officials told The Buffalo News. In neighboring Orchard Park, the highway superintendent called the rate of snowfall "unbelievable," while next door in Hamburg police cars were getting stuck.

Oakley and her son, Todd, were passing the time watching "Dumb and Dumber" on Netflix.

"We can't even walk down to the end of the street and get ourselves a pizza," she said, laughing. "Maybe if you had snow shoes, I don't know."

___

Associated Press Writers Kate Brumback in Atlanta; Deepti Hajela in New York; Chris Carola and Michael Hill in Albany, N.Y.; and Albert Stumm in Philadelphia, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Associated Press
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

A band of storm clouds moves across Lake Erie and into Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. Parts of New York measured the season's first big snowfall in feet, rather than inches, on Tuesday as 3 feet of lake-effect snow blanketed the Buffalo area and forced the closure of a 132-mile stretch of the state Thruway. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

Numerous Injuries, Rescues in Brooklyn Fire

Five people in critical condition and one person is dead after fire in Flatbush
Five people are in critical condition after a fatal fire in this Brooklyn apartment on Wednesday, November 19, 2014. (NYRRT video image)
Published Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Authorities say one person was killed and 14 others were injured in a fire that raced through an apartment building in Brooklyn.

Police say the victim was a man in his 20s. Five other people are in critical condition. One person is in serious condition and the remaining victims sustained minor injuries.

A FDNY spokeswoman says the fire broke out at 12:38 a.m. Wednesday in a three-story building on Flatbush Avenue.

The blaze was brought under control at 1:55 a.m.

Officials say the fire originated on the second floor and swept through the third floor.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

 

 

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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Children among Occupants Rescued from Brooklyn Fire Over a Dozen Injured in Brooklyn Fire

USFA: New York Firefighter Dies after Call

Firefighter Weisse Sr. passed away from a cause under investigation
USFA Published Monday, November 17, 2014

The U.S. Fire Administration has announced the official on-duty death of Firefighter Richard Weisse, Sr., 59, of the St. James Fire District on November 15, 2014.

A short time after responding to a school fire alarm, Firefighter Weisse suffered a medical emergency and passed away. The nature and cause of fatal injury are pending further investigation.

Tribute is being paid to Firefighter/Ex-Captain Richard Weisse, Sr. at http://apps.usfa.fema.gov/firefighter-fatalities/
 
To date, 76 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2014.  Year-to-date and annual USFA firefighter fatality reports are posted online at http://apps.usfa.fema.gov/firefighter-fatalities/fatalityData/statistics


Fatality status is provisional and may change as USFA contacts State Fire Marshals to verify fatality incident information.

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To date, 76 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2014.

Audio: World Trade Center Rescue
  • FDNY Responds to Workers Trapped on One World Trade Center

    Broken scaffolding dangling 69 stories on side of 1 WTC
    JAKE PEARSON, Associated Press Published Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — Investigators are looking into the collapse of a World Trade Center scaffold that left two window washers dangling from the nation's tallest skyscraper, 1 World Trade Center.

    The workers were trapped 68 stories above the street when a cable suddenly developed slack Wednesday.

    The workers held on to the teetering platform for two agonizing hours. One called his wife during the ordeal, fearful that it might be his last opportunity to speak to her.

    Firefighters used diamond cutters to saw through a double-layered window and pulled the men to safety.

    The dramatic rescue, coming a little more than a week after the building officially opened, was followed by throngs of New Yorkers watching from the ground and many more around the world watching on live TV.

    The window washers, Juan Lizama and Juan Lopez, were working on the south side of the lower Manhattan building when one of the platform's four cables abruptly gave way, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. The open-topped platform tilted sharply and swayed slightly between the 68th and 69th floors, he said.

    "It suddenly went from horizontal to nearly vertical," Nigro said.

    Officials haven't determined what caused the cable problem, the fire commissioner said.

    It was unclear whether anything about the design of the 1,776-foot, 104-story skyscraper complicates working on the window washing scaffolds, which went into service in June.

    A fire department photo shot from inside the building shows the scaffold platform hanging precipitously, with the Statue of Liberty appearing tiny in the distance.

    About 100 firefighters rushed to the scene, some of them lowering ropes from the roof so the workers could secure themselves and providing a two-way radio to communicate, Nigro said. The workers, who have more than 20 years of experience between them, were harnessed to the platform, and the building's owner said they had all the requisite safety gear and training.

    After shattering the window glass, firefighters began inching another scaffold down the building as a backup rescue plan. But the workers were brought to safety through the roughly 4-by-8-foot window hole.

    "It was a fairly straightforward operation," said Battalion Chief Joseph Jardin, who oversees the fire department's special operations.

    Officials stressed that firefighters had trained for various emergencies at the tower, which is the centerpiece of the rebuilt World Trade Center.

    Firefighters generally seek to cut out windows to make such rescues, but Nigro noted the trade center's thick glass: a double-paned inner layer and an outer pane.

    "And, of course, they were 68 stories up," he said. "That presented a little bit more of a challenge."

    Lizama and Lopez were examined at a hospital and were released. Their union, Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, said it makes sure workers follow rigorous safety protocols.

    Lizama's wife, Hilda, told the New York Post that her husband called her on his cellphone to tell her to take care of their children because "I don't know what's going to happen."

    She said he told her, "We're real high. I don't know if or how it's going to turn out." The Post said the couple has three sons and live in Hudson County, New Jersey.

    The building's owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said it was suspending window cleaning there while investigating what happened.

    The window washers were working for Upgrade Services Window Cleaning, which services other prominent New York skyscrapers including the nearby 4 World Trade Center.

    The window washing company would only say the window washers were "doing well" after their release from the hospital. The rig's supplier, the Tractel Group, which built and repaired scaffolds involved in two other high-profile accidents in recent years, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

    The Tractel Group was fined $21,000 in 2008 after a scaffold it had repaired the year before gave way with two window washers aboard while they worked on the 47th floor of an upper Manhattan building; one worker died. Tractel also built a scaffold that snapped 500 feet above the ground last June in midtown Manhattan, leaving two workers dangling; they were rescued after firefighters cut through glass.

    The silvery $3.9 billion skyscraper that rose from the ashes of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack, opened last week to 175 employees of magazine publisher Conde Nast. Steps away are two memorial fountains built on the footprints of the decimated twin towers, a reminder of the more than 2,700 people who died in the attack.

    ___

    Associated Press writers Kiley Armstrong, Verena Dobnik, Deepti Hajela and Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.

    Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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    Associated Press
    Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    A partially collapsed scaffolding hangs from the 1 World Trade Center in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. New York City firefighters have been called to the nation's tallest skyscraper, where two workers are stuck on scaffolding 69 stories above street level. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
    A partially collapsed scaffolding hangs from the 1 World Trade Center in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. New York City firefighters have been called to the nation's tallest skyscraper, where two workers are stuck on scaffolding 69 stories above street level. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
    This photo, from the Fire Dept. of New York Twitter page, shows a window washer's gondola as it hangs from 1 World Trade Center, in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. Two workers are stuck on scaffolding 69 stories above street level. A police official, John Miller, says the partially collapsed scaffolding is hanging at "a 75-degree angle." The Fire Department said the workers are tethered and communicating with rescuers. (AP Photo/Fire Dept. of New York, Twitter)


    PHOTO GALLERIES

    Over Two Dozen Injured in New York Bus Crash

    Bus headed to New York City crashes into a car and tractor-trailer near Syracuse
    Published Thursday, November 6, 2014

    SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — A New York City-bound bus crashed into a wrecked car and a tractor-trailer on Interstate 81 outside Syracuse early Thursday, injuring more than two dozen people, authorities said.

    A Pine Hill Trailways bus with 52 passengers on board was traveling south on I-81 around 2:30 a.m. when it slammed into a car that had just crashed into a guard rail and came to rest in the highway's left lane just south of Syracuse, the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office said. Deputies said the bus then hit the rear a tractor-trailer whose driver had pulled over on the highway's shoulder to offer assistance to the car's driver.

    Twenty-six of the passengers and the bus driver were injured, official said. It took emergency crews two hours to extricate the driver from the vehicle's smashed-in front end, deputies said. He was listed in serious condition at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse.

    The injured passengers mostly suffered lower extremity, chest, back and facial injuries, all of them apparently minor, police said. They were transported to hospitals in the 10 ambulances and other emergency vehicles that responded to the crash scene.

    The driver of the car was charged with driving while intoxicated. Deputies said his name would be released later Thursday.

    I-81's southbound lanes were closed until shortly before 5:30 a.m.

    Deputies said the bus left Toronto on Wednesday evening and was scheduled to arrive in New York city around 6:30 a.m. Thursday. The uninjured passengers were taken to Syracuse's bus station.

    The bus is owned by Trailways of New York, a Hurley, New York-based company that also operates Adirondack Trailways, New York Trailways and NeOn Bus. The American Bus Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group that issued a statement on behalf of Pine Hill, said the company operates buses daily between Ontario, Canada, and New York City.

    Dan Ronan, an ABA spokesman, said the bus picked up passengers in Buffalo and Rochester. Company officials were still trying to determine where the injured passengers are from, he said.

    Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

     

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    Associated Press
    Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    This photo provided by the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office shows the bus involved in a crash with a tractor-trailer and a car that left 27 people injured on Interstate 81 early Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, in Nedrow, N.Y. Twenty-six passengers suffered minor injuries on the Pine Hills Trailways bus traveling from Toronto to New York City. The bus driver is in serious condition at a Syracuse hospital. Police say the car driver has been charged with driving while intoxicated. (AP Photo/Onondaga County Sheriff's Office)
    Sheriff deputies work the scene of a multiple vehicle accident on I-81, south of Syracuse at the Nedrow exit Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014. A bus was involved in a crash with a tractor-trailer and a car that left 27 people injured early Thursday. Twenty-six passengers suffered minor injuries on the Pine Hills Trailways bus traveling from Toronto to New York City. The bus driver is in serious condition at a Syracuse hospital. Police say the car driver has been charged with driving while intoxicated. (AP Photo/The Post-Standard, David Lassman)


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