It was a cool, clear evening on the night of November 17th 2015. Many companies including Engine 316 and Tower Ladder 138 had just fought a multiple alarm fire earlier in the tour. It was now 2131 hours when Queens Box 9352 was transmitted reporting fire in a private dwelling with reports of people trapped. En route, E316 and TL138 were informed that due to the volume of calls that they were going to “work.” The address given was 34-40 106th Street in the Corona section of Queens.
As E316 turned onto 106th Street, people could be seen in front of the dwelling. Smoke could be seen issuing from the 2nd floor windows and a 10-75 was given for fire on the 2nd floor of a 2½ story private dwelling. After exiting the Engine, Lieutenant Vilagos was met with frantic residents all screaming a baby was still inside in the attic. Lieutenant Vilagos made his way into the house and quickly located the stairs to the left. As he ascended the stairs, Lieutenant Vilagos was met by dark, thick smoke and he could hear but not yet see the fire. Lieutenant Vilagos was informed by his control man that fire was venting out of two windows on exposure 2. Lieutenant Vilagos ordered his members to stretch a 1 ½ hoseline up to the 2nd floor. The 2nd floor was filled with smoke and conditions were getting worse. Lieutenant Vilagos began his search for the attic stairs. The heat was intense and visibility was zero. Lieutenant Vilagos found a door and opened it only to discover a fully involved bathroom. Now met on the 2nd floor by TL138, both Lieutenant Vilagos and the inside team of TL138 were searching for the stairs to the attic. Lieutenant Vilagos realized that the door to an adjoining room had burnt through and conditions were deteriorating quickly. Lieutenant Vilagos informed his chauffeur and nozzle team of the location of fire and ordered them to start booster water as soon as they were in position. Lieutenant Vilagos and the members of TL138 pressed on trying to locate the stairwell. Heat and flames were now engulfing the hallway.
Lieutenant Vilagos came across a narrow outward opening door and was able to open it. The door was approximately 20” wide and behind it was a narrow open ladder-type stair that led to the attic. Crawling on his belly he made his way into the opening and up the narrow stairs, unable to close the doorway behind him and now operating in a flue-like shaft. Lieutenant Vilagos made his way up to the attic and began his search. Lieutenant Vilagos had to do a quick search as conditions would not allow him to be in the attic too long. He began his search toward the rear when he heard the faint sounds of a baby struggling to breathe. He found his way over to what was the crib and he quickly rose and found the baby. Lieutenant Vilagos then transmitted a 10-45 and with baby in hand, he began to make his way back to the stairwell. Lieutenant Vilagos used his body to shield the baby from the high temperatures that were now in the attic. Lieutenant Vilagos made his way down to the 2nd floor and passed two fully involved rooms of fire, shielding the baby until he could reach the front door before handing the baby off to awaiting FDNY members.
Lieutenant Vilagos operated at extreme personal risk to himself passing two rooms of fire and removing and saving the life of a three-week-old baby. Lieutenant Vilagros showed great courage under pressure.