By Emily Davenport
A three-alarm fire broke out inside a Bronx building, affecting several businesses on the block.
At 6:12 a.m. on Jan. 28 the FDNY responded to a call regarding a commercial fire on the ground floor of 1783 Westchester Avenue. FDNY responded to the scene and moved in to extinguish the fire. The fire went to a third alarm when the fire spread to the upper floor and adjoining stores.
Due to the heavy level of flames, the units were pulled from the building and began to put out the fire from the outside, FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Kevin Woods said in a statement. The fire was brought under control later that morning.
There are no reported injuries as a result of the fire. The FDNY stated that seven businesses were affected by the fire. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
At around 7:30 that same morning, unrelated to the fire, 52-year-old Aaron Cervantes Mejia allegedly appeared to collapse on the ground going into cardiac arrest. When a 32-year-old female EMT went to assist him, Cervantes Meija allegedly began to forcibly grope the EMT about the chest and crotch over her clothes.
After getting help from a fellow employee, the victim was able to escape and the NYPD, who was on scene, took Cervantes Meija into custody. He was charged with forcible touching and sex abuse.
The FDNY released a statement from Chief of EMS Operations Lillian Bonsignore regarding the EMT that was assaulted on the scene:
“We had an unbelievable and despicable incident happen. We had one of our EMTs assaulted on the scene. We are out here ready to save the lives of the people who depend on us, out in the freezing cold while our Firefighters are fighting this fire. We had a young EMT, female, who was flagged down, as we are very often, for somebody in need of help. As she approached this particular person, she was assaulted, inappropriately grabbed and held. It required the help of one of our coworkers to try to help her break out of that situation. It is disgusting and inappropriate. EMS is always here to save your life, always here to help you no matter what the situation, no matter who you are or where you come from, we are here, ready to assist. None of our people should have to come to work and deal with a situation like that. Thankfully, NYPD was able to apprehend this particular person, he is in custody at this moment. Our EMT is being followed up with and supported thoroughly by the Fire Department and NYPD. I want to just remind everybody that assaulting EMS members is a felony. We will not tolerate it, we will follow through 100% and we support the full prosecution of anybody who puts their hands on an EMS member. EMS is here to save your lives, let’s take care of them.”
Updated at 12 p.m.