Miracle on 86th St.
To the Editor:
Somehow saying “thank you” doesn’t seem to be enough.
Our “thank yous” start with Deputy Chief Matt Letts of the Beach Haven Fire Co., who is a real hero in this story. He was driving in the area of 86th Street on Long Beach Boulevard just after 2 a.m. Sunday morning, Jan. 22. He told us he was sure that he picked up the smell of smoke, which is pretty amazing considering the smell that has been coming from the water and sewer project going on in that area. A seasoned firefighter, he knew his instincts weren’t wrong and began tenaciously driving around the area.
On a foggy night as well, he noticed what looked like more fog concentrated above the building that houses Brighton Beach Surf Shop. He also astutely surmised that there was someone living there. He proceeded with Long Beach Township police officers to kick in the door and wake our 88-year-old father, Richard Lisiewski, who was successfully removed from the residence area on the second floor.
That being accomplished, until fire companies arrived they continued to put themselves in harm’s way and reportedly used eight fire extinguishers and also ran a hose with no success in an attempt to put down the blaze that was now in full force in the attic.
The scary part of the story is that the officers told us there was no real smell of fire in the residence at that point since the fire and smoke were escaping above. Our father may not have smelled the smoke at all or only smelled it at a point when it was too late for him to access an exit. There are few people living in that area.
Additionally, the residence has become largely blocked by mounds of sand, debris and construction equipment so that seeing a problem while traveling on the Boulevard would have been greatly hindered. The bravery, diligence and skill of these fine men saved our father’s life.
“Thank you” to the firefighters represented by Surf City, Ship Bottom, High Point and Stafford Township, as well as our friends Shirley, Jack and Kevin from the Beach Haven First Aid Squad, who selflessly gave their time and skill at the scene through the early hours of the cold, rainy morning.
“Thank you” to Marko and Keegan, who came the next day to help with cleanup. This included the removal of classic longboards that had watched the fire firsthand from the attic rafters. Soot-covered, they were lovingly carried out of the building. The fate wasn’t as good for other surfing memorabilia and hundreds of surfing magazines dating back to the 1960s. Personal treasures were also lost that day, but we still have our surfing patriarch and our “Miracle on 86th Street.”
We are blessed to live in a community of people who selflessly give their time in serving others. “Thank you” from the Brighton Beach Surf Shop family – Caroline Unger and Michael Lisiewski.