A "suspicious" fire killed one person and left two dozen families displaced from their upper Manhattan apartment building last night.
The fire started at 512 West 136th Street before 5:45 p.m. The fire went to four alarms as 175 firefighters battled the blaze. After the fire was extinguished, a body was found. According to WCBS 2, "The victim was found on an upper floor staircase landing and was so severely burned that it was not clear whether it was a man or a woman. The victim had been trying to escape, the FDNY said." Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said last night, "We don’t know what apartment the person came from other than they were found on the top floor and they were badly burned."
At this point, it's been determined the victim was a female, on the sixth floor landing. Two other civilians were injured, as were 10 firefighters. NBC New York reports, "At one point, flames were shooting out of a window with such force that they appeared to overwhelm a firefighter before he was able to jump onto the fire escape one story below."
Many residents used fire escapes to leave the building. One, Sandra Delacruz said, "I’m surprised I’m here with my dog. He doesn’t have a leash. I just panicked and we just got out of the apartment... I rushed to get out, and I went to the third floor to knock on my uncle’s door, tell him that it was smoke or fire coming into the building, and then when we were going to the second floor, I couldn’t pass the second floor because it was black and smoke." She used a second floor fire escape.
Another neighbor on the fourth floor, Rosa Rodriguez, said, "Our entire apartment was filled with smoke. It was too hot; the first floor was completely burning. We had to go up the fire escape to the roof."
The Red Cross provided support and meals for displaced residents, as well as emergency housing. The FDNY thinks the fire is suspicious "because of the large volume of the blaze" and is investigating.