“Hero” firefighter saves girl in burning Massachusetts home with help from DPW workers

EVERETT – Two Everett Department of Public Works employees rushed into a burning building when they saw smoke, alerting a firefighter that a young girl was trapped by flames and allowing him to perform a dramatic rescue.

It happened Wednesday around 8 a.m. when flames broke out on the third floor of the Hancock Street apartment building.

“I looked up and I could see the back corner of the top floor, completely black,” said neighbor Leah Antinick.

Everett firefighter praised as “hero”

Everett DPW workers Jesse Winocour and Jason Papa happened to be driving by at the time.

“We’re coming down here. I smelled smoke, smelled something. I asked him, ‘Do you smell that?’ Coming down the street, saw smoke coming from the roof. So I told him ‘Stop the truck, stop the truck!’ We both ran out, ran to the building, kicked in the doors, got everyone out,” Winocour said.

But when the men got to the third floor, the conditions were too dangerous to reach a small child who was trapped.

“We tried to go up further to the point I couldn’t breathe, my eyes were burning,” said Papa.

“We tried to go up to the third floor where the little girl was. We couldn’t make it all the way in. Too much smoke, too much fire. We tried,” Winocour said. “But as we were coming down, the fireman, we told him to go up there. He went up there and saved her. He’s the hero. The fireman saved the little girl. He’s the hero.”

Everett DPW workers Jesse Winocour and Jason Papa. CBS Boston

Mayday call issued

Everett Fire Cpt. Gary Ostler said that while the girl was unconscious after being rescued, she was alert in the ambulance and expected to be OK.

“From what I was told, the baby is fine.” Ostler said, praising the DPW workers and firefighter for their quick actions. “They were very helpful. It was a good thing they were on scene, saw it, and assisted. This is the ultimate team sport as I like to call it. Everyone helps out. Their assistance got people out of the building, allowed us to go further into the building and got the baby.”

At one point a firefighter issued a mayday call, but they were able to safely escape. The firefighter was taken Mass General Hospital with a minor injury. The little girl was unconscious when she was taken out of the home.

“She was unconscious, she apparently wasn’t breathing, I was so scared to see her,” said neighbor Connie Garcia. “He couldn’t do anything else, he just dropped his body to the floor.”

Residents displaced following fire

Papa was asked what was going through his mind when he saw the fire.

“Honestly nothing. [Winocour] said ‘Let’s go.’ I went,” Papa said. “I’m a little shook up, seeing the little girl come out like that in his arms just hanging there. I’ve got six kids of my own. I’ve got three boys, three girls. She was about the age of one of my daughters. But at the end of the day, she’s OK.”

About 20 people were displaced following the fire. The cause has not yet been determined, though a neighbor said it is believed to have started in a laundry unit on the third floor.

“Thank Christ, thank Christ he did it, because otherwise it would be a tragedy,” said displaced neighbor Sue Decarney.