The desperate screams of a wheelchair-bound man helped save his Queens family from a fast-moving fire — but they were unable to rescue him.
“Fire! Fire!” yelled 59-year-old Ismael Sylla, a paraplegic and former employee for the Embassy of Guinea in China, as the flames ripped through the basement of the Flushing home on Hampton Boulevard at around 10 p.m. Thursday.
Sylla’s son, Abdul, 25, was watching television in his basement bedroom of the home – which did not have any smoke alarms — when he heard his father’s yells.
“I heard him and then I saw the fire coming through the room. The smoke was coming through the door,” Abdul tearfully recalled outside the fire-ravaged home Friday.
“My first instinct, I opened the first door, and I opened the second door and all the flames came out,” Abdul said. “When I opened the door all the lights went out.”
That’s when Abdul ran upstairs to alert his 33-year-old sister, Victoria, and her three children, aged 3, 5 and 14, that the house was on fire.
Abdul said that at that point, he thought his father had somehow managed to crawl up the stairs to safety.
“The fire was just so much — it burnt my head a little bit,” Abdul said. “I yelled, and my pops was the first one to know, so I figured he was already going upstairs.”
As he ran up the stairs, “my mind was all over the place,” Abdul remembered.
“I tried to get water. I tried to go for the hose…I tried to put it out,” he said. “The fire was all over [the ceiling]. It was just so much, so fast.”
Abdul added: “I wanted to do everything at the same time – put out the fire, get everyone out, call 911.”
As Victoria yanked her children out of their beds and rushed them outside, the family realized that Ismael Sylla was missing.
Then, Abdul said, he and his brother raced back downstairs but they were overcome by the fire and smoke.
“I went downstairs to look for my father and there was just too much smoke. We couldn’t find him,” Abdul said. “I could’ve saved him but I couldn’t find him.”
“Everything was just black, just dark, I can’t see nothing,” Abdul said. “We couldn’t find him because he was in the bathroom. We wouldn’t think to go to the bathroom to find him.”
Abdul described the tragedy “unreal.”
“I wished he saved himself also,” Abdul said of his father. “Everything just happened so quickly.”
The son called his father “a good man” who “tried to do good for us.”
The family said it is now trying to come up with the funds to give Sylla a proper burial.
Emergency responders pronounced Sylla dead at the scene. The Medical Examiner will determine his cause of death.
Meanwhile, fire marshals on Friday ruled the cause of the blaze as an accidental, electrical fire.
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