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01-04-2005, 11:00
Hero Cop/Firefighter, Rescues Kids From Queens Blaze

A fierce fire set by a 4-year-old Queens boy playing with a lighter near his family's Christmas tree left one dead and a hero cop catching kids tossed from windows, authorities said yesterday.

"They were at their windows with the smoke behind them, [and] there was lots of panic," said Lt. Louis Soviero, who was on routine patrol when terrified neighbors flagged him down outside the three-story brick building at 96-20 Corona Ave. at around 5:29 p.m.

"I had them just throw me a kid at a time, then helped the adults down," said Soviero, who also serves as a volunteer firefighter in Massapequa, L.I.

Diego Pereira, a 42-year-old handyman who was at a social club across the street, said, "They were all screaming."

He and other neighbors called out to the trapped tenants to get out through the windows.

A terrified mom, her three kids and two puppies were at one window, while another woman was yelling for help from a different apartment.

Adrian Narvaez, 4, and his 11/2-year-old sister, Diana were thrown to safety and caught by the hero officer as flames shot through the roof.

Their mother Leonor, 36, and big sister, Andrea, 13, went out the window and were also saved by the officer, witnesses said.

The puppies, too, were saved.

"I was doing my homework [in the apartment], and [someone] said, "Fire! Fire!" Andrea recalled.

"I had to climb out of the window and drop down. I didn't know if we were going to make it. I was really scared."

A weeping Leonor Narvaez later stood outside the charred remains of the building clutching her baby to her chest while quietly repeating, "We lost everything."

The woman in the other apartment identified by relatives as 48-year-old mom Anna Ronquillo finally tried leaping toward rescuers but landed on the ground, witnesses said.

She was in serious condition at Elmhurst Hospital with a broken leg and back injuries, family said.

"She was cooking when she smelled fire and felt the floor getting hot," said her husband, Adolpho Guasco.

"When she opened the door, she saw a lot of smoke.

"She couldn't escape, so she jumped from the window," he said.

"She's not doing well."

Tragically, another third-floor resident, a man, never made it out of his apartment and was found dead, officials said.

His name was withheld pending notification of his relatives.

Authorities said the fire was started by a boy who lived on the first floor.

The child was playing with a lighter wand and "put it up to the Christmas tree," said Chief Fire Marshal Louis Garcia.

"The tree was dry, and it burst into flames.

"The grandfather tried to move the tree, and when he [did], it just went up."

The boy's dad, Israel Cisneros, appeared dazed at the scene hours later.

"My wife called me and said the house was on fire and to come home as fast as I could," he recalled.

Asked about his son starting the blaze, Cisneros said only, "That's what she told me happened."

Steve Cassidy, president of the firefighters union, griped that staffing cutbacks kept the Bravest from putting the three-alarm blaze under control more quickly.

But department spokesman Frank Gribbon said the first truck at the scene had the pre-cutback number of five firefighters aboard.

Six firefighters suffered non-life-threatening injuries.