A 42-year-old New York City firefighter, William Tolley, died Thursday afternoon after falling from the roof of a five-story apartment building while battling a fire in Queens, CBS New York reports.
At around 2:20 p.m., firefighters with the New York City Fire Department were combatting a fire that started on the second floor of an apartment building on 1615 Putnam Avenue in a Ridgewood neighborhood.
Along with other NYC firefighters, Tolley, a 14-year veteran, was stationed on the rooftop “to help ventilate the building.”
About 20 minutes into the Queens fire, officials with the New York City Fire Department say when the firefighter was exiting the roof and attempting to get inside of a bucket to return to the ground, he fell.
Recent reports indicated that the bucket began to shake as the firefighter was attempting to get inside, but after FDNY investigated the incident, it was uncovered that Tolley most likely took a misstep as he was stepping into the bucket, authorities say.
The New York City firefighter was transported to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where he was listed in critical condition.
The firefighter died from his injuries just shortly after arrival, adding Tolley’s death to a long list of firefighters who were killed in the line of duty.
Deputy Chief Michael Fahy was the last firefighter to be killed in the line of duty. On September 26, 2016, Fahy died in an explosion while at a marijuana growth house.
Firefighters with the New York City Fire Department says Tolley was married and the father of an 8-year-old girl, Isabella.
The Fire Commissioner, Daniel Nigro, stated that the Queens fire had nothing to do with the firefighters’ death, adding that “it was really the operation he was performing on the roof.”
“He did it willingly in service of others, and today he made the ultimate sacrifice,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
“Our hearts go out to his family. We will stand with you not only today but the days ahead and for years and years to come.”
Construction worker Michael Lewis said, “I saw the fireman go up the ladder, go in the white thing — the bucket — and then the ladder shakes.”
“I don’t know why it jerks or why it shakes. After it shakes, then he fell out. He was already up there on top of the roof in the bucket. There was like two or three firemen already on the roof, and then it shakes, and he fell out.”
“The fire was on the second floor,” said FDNY Commissioner Nigro.
“Firefighter Tolley was operating on the roof. That was his position as the outside ventilation firefighter, operating around the area where Ladder 135’s bucket was located.”
“Firefighter Tolley fell five stories from the roof and he perished about 20 minutes into fighting that fire.”
A 43-year-old woman, Angie Cordero, said she watched the firefighter fall to his death from her home across the street.
“I was just looking at what was happening. All of the sudden I heard a noise,” Cordero said.
“I just saw when the body came over. I started to scream.”
The witness ran out of her home “shaken up” after watching the NYC fighter fall saying, “Just thinking you see this in movies, not here. It didn’t feel real.”
Another witness, Luz Soria, 58, said she saw the firefighter fall to his death as she was walking her children to school.
“I got really nervous. I felt bad.” Soria said.
New York City firefighters were able to control the Queens fire around 3 p.m., just shortly after the firefighter fell to his death. Three people sustained minor injuries in the fire.
The investigation into the firefighter’s fall is ongoing.
[Featured Image by New York City Fire Department/Facebook]