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Boy survives drop from 3rd floor of burning  building

A 6-alarm arson fire tore through a large apartment building, including the apartment of a couple on the third floor who dropped their young grandson into the arms of a waiting firefighter.
/ Source: news services

A Boston firefighter caught a 6-year-old boy who was dropped from the third floor of a blazing apartment building early Monday.

"Thankfully he landed in my arms and that's a good feeling," Lieutenant Glenn McGillivray told WHDH.

A suspect was in custody after the 6-alarm fire tore through a large apartment building in Roxbury. Firefighters rescued at least 15 people, including the 6-year-old grandson of Herbert and Judith Lamb, who live on the third floor of the apartment building and said they were awakened by an explosion and smoke.

The Lambs broke a window and dropped their 6-year-old grandson, Xavier, into McGillivray's arms.

"I had to drop him out the window," Judith Lamb told The Boston Globe. "The firemen caught him."

It was a scary scene as the blaze enveloped the building, the firefighter said. “She’s hanging on inside the window so she doesn’t fall out, and he was petrified as to if he was gonna fall, so thankfully we got there in time to get underneath him and catch him,” McGillivray said.

The firefighter denied he was a hero after catching Xavier. "It's a job; we are just trying to do the best we can."

The blaze damaged or destroyed more than two dozen apartments in the large, U-shaped building on Wardman Road in the city's Roxbury neighborhood.

Residents who escaped said they heard an explosion at about 1 a.m.

A short time later, fire department spokesman Steve MacDonald told the Associated Press a man showed up at a hospital and said he started the fire.

"He walked into Boston Medical Center with burns and admitted certain things to investigators, so he was placed under arrest for arson of a dwelling," MacDonald said.

Mohamed Abdul Jabar, 28, of Medford, was transferred to the burn unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was being treated in intensive care with second-degree burns to his arms, hands and face. His injuries don't appear to be life-threatening, police said.

Police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said a preliminary investigation indicates that Jabar set the fire as part of a failed suicide attempt.

It was not clear if he lived in the building or was visiting, MacDonald said, and no motive was known.

NBC affiliate WHDH reported that the suspect, who suffered burns on 10 percent of his body, was charged with arson of a dwelling and multiple counts of attempted murder. Damage to the building was said to be about $3 million.

10/17/2011 ROXBURY, MA Firefighters battle a 6-alarm fire at an apartment building on Wardman Road (cq) in Roxbury. The fire is said to have been caused by a gas explosion. A portion of the building appears to have been blown out. (Aram Boghosian)Aram Boghosian / FTP

MacDonald said the windows and frame were blown out in one corner of the building and bricks were littering the street.

Ten residents of the building were taken to hospitals, most suffering from smoke inhalation. Two firefighters and a police officer were also treated for what were believed to be minor injuries, MacDonald said.

Firefighters said all residents were accounted for, though MacDonald cautioned that crews had not yet been able to enter the building.

About 160 firefighters were called to the scene and they were still pouring water on the building several hours after the blaze started.

A temporary shelter was set up in the city for residents displaced by the blaze.

MacDonald could not immediately confirm initial reports that the fire may have been started after a gas line to a stove was cut.