A brave resident who runs a variety store on Zerega Avenue found himself in the national spotlight unexpectedly, when he rescued a young boy from a fire above his store.
Horia “Billy” Cretan, rescued four-year-old Christopher Ramcharran from a burning apartment at 1418 Zerega Avenue on Wednesday, September 30. Cretan, the owner of All-Wayz Variety Store at 1424 Zerega Avenue, scaled a fire escape and helped firefighters pull the boy to safety. The fire broke out after 3 p.m.
Cretan proposed to his fiancée the following day on Good Morning America after being hailed as a national hero for his heroism on that fourth floor fire escape. On Friday, October 2, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. presented Cretan, a Romanian native, with a citation of merit on behalf of the borough.
“Horia Cretan is our hero – a Bronx hero,” Diaz said as he presented the merchant the certificate of merit.
Cretan said that he was surprised by all of the hoopla over the rescue.
“Two days ago, I was just a regular guy from the Bronx who was trying to make a business work,” Cretan said. “The main thing that we need to keep in mind here is that the boy is fine. Three families lost their homes and all they had in this fire. We need to be thinking about what they are going through. Thankfully, only possessions were lost, and they can be replaced.”
Cretan also said that he did not hesitate for a second to do what he did, and would do it all over again.
“I didn’t have any apprehension because there was no time,” Cretan said in an interview. “I just went up there and completed a successful rescue with the help of the fire department. I thought someone else may have called 911, but the people in the burning apartments needed help right at that moment.”
Local residents who know Cretan said that he is a man who many of the kids know from his store, which deals in video games. They also said he has strong ties to the community where he earns his living.
“He is both a businessman and gentleman,” said Anthony Burgos, whose nieces play with Ramcharran. “He saw the kid trying to get out of the apartment and went up there. I would have done the same thing.”
According to an eyewitness, a fellow merchant Ali Alawdi assisted Cretan, who literally breathed life back into the young boy.
“Billy brought the child down the fire escape, and gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation,” said Felix Alvarado, a construction worker in the area. “I think he’s a hero.”
©2009 Community News Group