When Christopher Schneider saw smoke coming from the back of his next door neighbor's house as he was playing outside his Commack home on Monday afternoon, he thought it may have been coming from a barbecue.
But when the 10-year-old noticed how thick and black the smoke was, he knew he needed to take action.
Christopher ran and got his father, Russell Schneider, who peeked over a 6-foot fence to see the outside of his neighbor's home at 5 Ulster Court in flames at about 2:13 p.m.
Russell told his son to call 911. As Christopher was calling for help, Russell ran to the door of his neighbor's home and started to pound on the door frantically in an effort to alert the occupants of the fire. Inside the home were Marc and Doreen Kimmel along with their 2-year-old son Anthony, who were all asleep at the time.
"After what seemed like forever, they came to the door," Russell recalled.
Russell told them the house was on fire and the Kimmels, including eight and half month pregnant Doreen, made it out safely.
Russell then ran back to his yard, grabbed a garden hose, and began to put the flames out with the hose from the other side of the fence.
Three minutes after receiving the call, Paul Carnevale, 3rd assistant chief of the Commack Fire Department was on the scene, with an engine company 30 seconds behind him.
Fire officials said that instead of arriving on the scene of an inferno with a pregnant woman, her husband and their child trapped in their burning home, they found a fire that was for the most part, already extinguished.
"It is the
opinion of the Commack Fire Department, that if it weren’t for the actions of
10-year-old Christopher Schneider, not only noticing that there was a problem,
but then reporting it accurately to his father and 911 as well, and his father
Russell who alerted the occupants and then extinguished the blaze, this story
could have had a very different and terribly tragic outcome," the department wrote in a news release.
"Instead, two everyday people stepped up, made a difference and became heroes."