After a massive fire broke out overnight in an apartment complex in Ronkonkoma, a hamlet on Long Island in the Town of Islip, New York, residents were forced to quickly flee the burning building as the flames quickly spread.
According to local fire officials, the blaze began shortly before 1 am on Sunday at a Peconic Street apartment complex. A family of three, two parents and a toddler, had to jump from a balcony on the second floor to escape the fire. James Schlick, the father, jumped first in order to catch his daughter Julia, 20 months old, who was dropped by Jenna Schlick, her mother. After their daughter was safely on the ground, Jenna jumped down.
An ambulance took the three fortunate survivors to Stony Brook University Hospital to be treated for minor injuries. Jenna said having to drop her daughter from a balcony was the "scariest moment of my life." She added that it's a miracle that they made it out alive after being trapped in the burning apartment.
Tina Donegan, one of the residents in the complex, said she had been awoken by several kids who were banging on a neighbor’s apartment yelling, “Fire! Fire! Get out!” Donegan, who managed to flee with her son Liam, saw the flames quickly consume the building and watched as the Schlick family attempted to escape over the balcony.
Officials say that five apartments, including the Schlick’s, have been destroyed. Residents, who are being helped by the Red Cross to find alternate housing, say they didn't hear any of the smoke detectors go off. The causes of the fire, which has left an estimated 40 residents in 11 apartments homeless, are still unclear. Detectives with the Suffolk County Police Arson Section are investigating the blaze.
The local community has rallied to help the residents. Richard's Stride Rite, a shoe store with locations in Sayville and Selden, has offered to give residents a free pair of shoes for their children if they stop by. Also, a GoFundMe page has also been set up by Eleni Ceccarelli to help the Schlick Family. So far $1,075 have been raised.