A 3-alarm fire ripped through a 17-story Bronx apartment building last night, and the toll of injured civilians and firefighters ranged from 36 to 53. The fire started around 9pm, when a gas explosion occurred in a first-floor apartment. The fire spread quickly because the apartment's front door had been left open, also sending "thick, black smoke into the stairwells." The Post reported a FDNY official as saying, "It's one of the nastiest fires I've seen in a long time."
Amid panic, many residents tried to escape the building at Grand Concourse near East 175th Street by using the fire escapes, only to find the ladders unstable. One first-floor resident told the NY Times, "The explosion was so strong, it blew off the fire escapes.”
And there was a 4-alarm brush fire in Staten Island. Five people were injured, five homes were damaged, and 250 firefighters worked to get the fire under control. One resident, Ray Fletcher, told the Post and the Times, "I was watching the Yankees, and just after A-Rod hit a home run, everything went black outside. I ran out into the street. The block was being engulfed by flames, and I said, 'This is how I'm going to die.' " While only his car was lost to the fire, this was the second car Fletcher has lost to a fire.