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Firefighters Pull Five From Burning Building

February 15, 1989

NEW YORK (AP) _ Children playing with matches may have ignited a fire in a house from which firefighters rescued five people, including four who were revived after being pulled out unconscious, authorities said.

The four - a man, a young boy and two infants - were hospitalized. Three of them were listed in critical condition.

Tuesday morning’s blaze began on the first floor of the three-story Brooklyn row house where several children had been playing with matches, said John Mulligan, a fire department spokesman.

The fire quickly spread to the upper floors, where 43-year-old Melvin Bell Sr. was found unconscious, his body shielding 2-month-old Tawana Bell.

Firefighters also found the infant, 4-year-old Lamar Bell and 4-month-old Tenora Coleman unconscious, Mulligan said.

All four were brought outside, revived and hospitalized for severe smoke inhalation. Melvin Bell and Tawana were in critical but stable condition at Kings County Hospital, said hospital spokeswoman Leah Johnson. Tenora Coleman was in stable condition, she said.

Lamar Bell was in critical condition at St. Mary’s Hospital before his transfer to the hyperbaric chamber on City Island, said hospital spokesman Tom Hall.

The victims’ relationships were not immediately available.

Bell’s 20-year-old son, Melvin Jr., was able to flee to roof, where firefighters rescued him uninjured, Mulligan said.

Mulligan said five firefighters who rescued the residents would receive commendations for heroism.

A cat and a dog also were rescued and revived with oxygen.

Update hourly