A man was critically injured when he tried to escape a fire in his Bronx apartment building yesterday afternoon. The man had climbed out his fifth floor bathroom window and tried to make his way down a cable that broke. The fire was started by a lit cigarette on the lobby couch; the NY Times reports that the flammable paint on the building's walls caused it to spread. A firefighter said, "The paint on the stair corridor flashed pretty quickly," with flames on each of the building's six floors.

The Times also mentioned that flammable paint "was once common.": "It has been blamed for similar fast-moving fires in stairwells, including one in a Bronx housing project in 1996 that roared up 11 floors, and two others in public housing buildings in 1995, each resulting in a fatality." We dug back and found the NY Times story from 1996 - even though the housing project's newest paint job was with fire-retardant paint, a fire still ignited the layers of flammable paint underneath!