A beloved Staten Island man who lived by himself died in a fast-moving fire that tore through his home early Sunday.
Firefighters arrived to the scene around 2:50 a.m. to find flames consuming 62-year-old John (Wood) Finley’s two-story residence on Scenic Lane near Circle Loop, officials said.
“I was on the couch watching TV and my bell was ringing frantically. It was a neighbor yelling, ‘Get out! Get out! There’s a fire!’” said Errol Morgan, 54, who lives two houses down.
“I came outside and saw my neighbor’s house engulfed in flames. The flames were bright orange, like 3 to 5 feet high. It was a terrible situation.”
First responders pulled a critically injured Finley out of the house and rushed him to Staten Island University Hospital North, where he later died, police said.
His two pit bulls, Blue and Skeeter, were treated for smoke inhalation and taken to a neighbor’s home, friends said.
Finley’s stepson was still in shock when reached by phone at his North Carolina home Sunday evening.
“He was a good man, a great guy who looked out for everybody. He was a great stepfather who put me on the right path. He made sure I stayed out of trouble,” said Terry Skinner, 32.
“It’s just unbelievable. We’re at a loss for words right now.”
Finley worked as a maintenance worker at a nearby apartment complex, neighbors said, and was a generous man who treated everyone on the block like family.
“We all called him the mayor. He looked out for everyone. If someone was blocking your driveway, he’d tell them they couldn’t sit there. He’d shovel snow, look out for kids getting off the school bus,” said Morgan.
“This is just terrible.”
“He was a great person and a father figure to me,” said neighbor Wahdada Stennett, 30. “He loved music, loved sports,” she added. “He was a big Knicks and Giants fan. We would’ve been watching football together right now.”
One firefighter suffered minor injuries battling the two-alarm blaze, which was brought under control in about an hour, the FDNY said.