There were two bright spots about last weekend’s fire on 63rd Street in Marathon: the window didn’t break containing the fire outside the apartment and the dog was okay.
“We were at Sombrero Beach when we got the call,” said Frank Molina, nodding at his wife, Vanessa, over the heads of his three children. “We scattered to grab everything and get here as fast as we could.”
By the time the young couple arrived, firefighters from Station No. 14 in Marathon had things well in hand. A pile of belongings tucked beneath an external stairwell had caught fire, burning the three kids’ bikes to a melted mess. The firefighters easily knocked the flames down, but the bikes were ruined.
“The bikes were new. The parents told me they had bought them at Christmas,” said Captain Eric Dunford.
So he and the other members of his crew bought new ones and presented them to the family three days after the fire.
“My bike!?” cried the littlest, Anthony, 3, when he spotted the red and black bicycle the firefighters were wheeling to his front door. His older brother Gabriel, 10, immediately hopped on his scooter to show off his skills. And Brianna, 6, pumped the pedals on her purple bicycle complete with training wheels.
Dunford said he was relieved the fire wasn’t more serious.
“The call came in as a structural fire,” he said, “and they ‘toned’ us and two other stations to respond.”
Still … as a dad himself, Dunford knows the importance of a bike to a little kid. He asked the local firefighters union to pitch in for the purchase.
“Thank you,” said father Frank Molina, shaking the hands of all the firefighters who arrived to present the gift.
“Thank you,” Vanessa said, kissing each one on the cheek.
And little Brianna? Well, she climbed right into the fire truck and tooted the horn excitedly; more than once, to everyone’s amusement.