Sunday, May 21, 2017 09:06PM
CHARLESTON, Staten Island (WABC) --
A birthday celebration turned tragic after candles ignited a fire that ripped through a townhouse on Staten Island. A 62-year-old man was killed. The man's son tried to save his father by calling out to neighbors for help.
The fire tore through the condo on Pembrook Loop in the Charleston section just before 11 p.m. Saturday.
Officials say the blaze was sparked by candles. 62-year-old Tony Carter was killed - it was his birthday. The University of New Haven professor was beloved in the community.
"He was like a father figure to us, honestly. He was a college professor, and he used to tell us 'if you need a recommendation to college' - he always used to help us," said Eli Herrera.
"He was a great person. He never had anything bad to say - he always complimented you," adds Kevin Berger.
Carter's son is recovering at the hospital, according to his second cousin. His hands are burned, but he will be okay. His family is trying to figure out who will take care of him - his father has sole custody.
His two adult brothers are flying in from Iowa to break the news to him that his father has passed.
Candles Are a Significant Fire Hazard!
- Unattended, abandoned or inadequately controlled candles
- Combustible material being too close to the candle flame
- Mattresses, bedding, cabinetry, curtains or drapes catching on fire
- Extinguish all candles before leaving your house, going into another room, leaving the room or when going to sleep. For this reason, keep candles out of bedrooms.
- Keep candles away from items that can catch fire such as clothing, books, paper, curtains, Christmas trees, decorations or anything else flammable.
- Make sure candles are placed on a stable piece of furniture in sturdy holders that won’t tip over. Candles should fit in the holders securely and holders should be made from material that can’t burn.
- Use flashlights for temporary lighting in power outages, not candles. Keep plenty of fresh batteries on hand during thunderstorm seasons.
- Make sure the candleholder is big enough to collect dripping wax.
- Don’t place lit candles in windows, where blinds or curtains can close over them.
- Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids.
- When purchasing or using candles, consider what would happen if the candle burned low. Could it burn the candleholder or decorative material nearby?
- Extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get within two inches of the holder or decorative material. Votives and container candles should be extinguished before the last one-half of an inch of wax starts to melt.
- Avoid candles with combustible items embedded in them.
- Keep candles a minimum of one foot in all directions from flammable and combustible items such as curtains or bedding. Make sure curtains cannot be blown over the candle by wind.
- Trim wicks prior to each use. Candlewicks should be trimmed to within one-fourth of an inch from the top of the candle.
- Place burning candles away from drafts and vents.
- Avoid burning candles for more than four hours at a time.
- Avoid walking while holding a burning candle. Do not move a glass container when the wax is liquid.
- Secure candles in holders made of glass, ceramic, metal or other noncombustible material.
A 9-year-old boy tried desperately to save his father from their burning Staten Island home Saturday night by running to neighbors and “begging” for help, witnesses said.
“Please, please help me get my dad,” the child cried out, while ringing a neighbor’s doorbell. “He can’t die.”
A man who identified himself as Joseph, 52, said he woke up, answered the door and found the distraught child, Tony, covered in black soot.
The blaze — which fire officials say was started by candles — ripped through the condo, killing his father, Anthony (Tony) Carter, as he celebrated his 62nd birthday on Pembrook Loop, near Bloomingdale Rd., just before 11 p.m.
After hearing the boy’s cries and seeing the smoke, three brave neighbors rushed outside and tried to douse the growing flames with a hose.
A deadly blaze at a Staten Island condo killed a 62-year-old man and hurt his young son. (Marc A. Hermann for New York Daily News)
Neighbors Joey Khoury, 43, Danny Spatola, 44, and Bobby Micara, 52, were instrumental in putting out the fire before police arrived and told the good Samaritans to get away from the burning building.
“I hopped into my neighbor’s backyard and broke their lock,” he recalled Sunday morning. “I took their hose and I put it on."
Spatola helped pull out the hose for Khoury.
The men said the fire appeared to have started in the back of the home's basement and totally burned the deck.
Anthony Carter, right, who died Saturday night in a Staten Island fire, poses with his sons, Walter, Calvin and Tony Jr., (left to right) in an undated photo. (Courtesy Walter Carter)
"There was nothing from the front," Khoury said. "From the front there was only smoke."
As firefighters attacked the blaze, neighbor Luba Sherr, 57, consoled the young Carter — who told neighbors there were candles in the house — before an ambulance arrived.
“He was in shock and shaking, saying ‘Help my dad, help my dad,’” the 57-year-old told the Daily News.
Sherr said the boy frantically prayed to God for help and begged his neighbors to save his father from the burning home.
Anthony (Tony) Carter, 62, is pictured holding his young son, Tony Jr., in an undated photo. (Courtesy Walter Carter)
“It’s terrible this happened,” Sherr added. “His father was his life.”
Carter’s young son, who attends Public School 56 in Rossville, was rushed to Staten Island University Hospital, where he was being treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation.
“I spoke with him a few hours ago,” his older brother, Walter Carter, 29, said Sunday afternoon. “He’s on oxygen. They’re monitoring his vitals. He’s coughing up phlegm with black soot. Other than that, he’s definitely going to be fine.”
About four hours before, Carter texted his adult son, Calvin.
Anthony (Tony) Carter was celebrating his birthday when the fire broke out. (Facebook)
“The last text I got from him says, “Cal, stay strong and thanks for the well wishes. Love, Dad,” the message read, according to Calvin.
A biography on the University of New Haven’s website identified Carter as a published author and accomplished professor of business. He also served on the advisory board for Infrastructure Group, Inc.
More importantly, Carter was a doting father to his twins, Calvin and Walter Carter, both 29, and Tony Jr.
“He never let the kid out of his sight,” said neighbor Josephine De Santo, who has lived on Pembrook Loop since 1992.
Firefighters walk in and out of the burned condo amid piles of debris following blaze on Pembrook Loop, near Bloomingdale Rd. (Marc A. Hermann for New York Daily News)
“Every day he would walk him to the bus stop and everyday he would pick him up. He was out here every day with his son — bike riding, skateboarding, playing catch.”
“He just gave everything he could for others,” Carter’s son, Walter, told The News early Sunday. “He was selfless. Anything to even cheer someone up who he thought was feeling down. He always tried doing the right thing.”
Carter’s own father, a member of the New York City Department of Sanitation Police, died at age 46. The future professor and father of three was then playing football with Long Island’s Hofstra University, according to a 2015 profile in the Staten Island Advance.
He was the first in his family to graduate from college. But he declined lucrative gigs to work as a professor, according to his sons. He helped low-income students get into college and helped others land jobs, his son said.
(John Finley )
(John Finley )
EMS rushed the 9-year-old victim to Staten Island University Hospital to be treated for minor burns.
He carried on his father’s legacy of mentoring young athletes in Staten Island and building a mentorship program pairing middle schoolers with New Haven college students, according to the Advance and the New Haven Register.
His twin sons, who both live in Iowa, want to continue that legacy for their half-brother, Tony.
“We just want to make sure my little brother grows up with that same love,” Calvin Carter told The News.
“The kid is too smart for his age. He has a big heart,” he added.