Off-duty firefighter, also a police lieutenant, saves woman, cat, from blaze

Photo by Lyndhurst Firefighter Bryan Intindola

The quick thinking of an off-duty volunteer Lyndhurst firefighter, who also happens to be a police lieutenant, helped to save the life of a woman and her cat, both of whom were trapped on the second floor of a burning building late last week, Lt. Vincent Auteri, the public-information officer of the Lyndhurst Police Department, said.

Here’s how it all went down, according to Auteri:

At approximately 9:37 a.m., on Friday, June 5, 2020, Lyndhurst Police Officers Michael LeStrange, Brian Kapp and Anthony Giaquinto were first to respond to a report of a house fire at 124 Forest Ave. Upon their arrival, they observed heavy black smoke emanating from numerous windows on each level of the multi-family dwelling.

They were also greeted curbside by a woman and her two young children, who had safely evacuated the first floor apartment. The officers then learned that the second floor was occupied and shortly thereafter, a female in distress appeared out of a second-floor window, informing officers she was unable to exit as a result of the dangerous smoke that had engulfed the building.

Officers Kapp and Giaquinto, with the assistance of a Good Samaritan, proceeded to retrieve a ladder from a neighboring home which they set up and extended to the second floor in order to try and rescue the woman.

Off-duty Lyndhurst Police Lt. Andrew Marmorato, who is also a volunteer firefighter with the Lyndhurst Fire Department, had heard the report of the fire, and being in the area, he responded directly to the scene and joined the first responding police officers.

As Officer LeStrange began to climb the ladder toward the victim, Lt. Marmorato, who had been assessing the situation, feared time was limited, so he made the quick decision to enter the building.

Without his protective gear, Lt. Marmorato proceeded up the stairs to the second floor apartment in order to rescue the trapped woman. Shortly thereafter, Marmorato escorted the once trapped victim and her cat unharmed to safety.

Fire damage was limited to the basement area thanks to the quick response by the members of the Lyndhurst Fire Department.  The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but not considered to be suspicious.

Lt. Marmorato has been with the Lyndhurst Police Department for 23 years and a member of the Lyndhurst Fire Department for nearly 30 years.

“Lt. Marmorato has been involved with public safety almost as long as I’ve known him. This is exactly what he signed up for and his heroic act is not a surprise to those who know him,” Auteri said.

The Lyndhurst Police Department would like to thank the Lyndhurst Police Emergency Squad, the Lyndhurst Police Auxiliary, the North Arlington Volunteer Emergency Squad, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department, as well as fire departments from North Arlington, Rutherford and East Rutherford for their assistance during this operation.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.