One man is dead and eight other residents were injured when an early morning fire swept through a Flatbush, Brooklyn tenement, fire officials said.
Fire officials say the dead man, not identified, succumbed to injuries he sustained after jumping from the third-floor window in a desperate attempt to escape the heavy smoke and flames. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Two other victims suffered live-threatening injuries; one was listed in critical condition at Kings County Medical Center, fire officials said. Five others were treated for smoke inhalation and other minor injuries.
Fire Department officials said the blaze broke out at 3:55 a.m. Monday on the second floor of a three-story tenement at 1776 Nostrand Ave. The conflagration led to panic as residents tried to flee the quickly spreading smoke and flames in the rear of the building.
Residents on the top floor were met by heavy flames and smoke on the rear fire escape, fire officials said, forcing some to flee for the interior stairs.
More than 100 firefighters battled the blaze, and some firefighters rescued victims from a burning apartment on the third floor.
“I was sleeping and then I heard the noise and then people were screaming ‘help, help’ in Creole,” said Marjorie August; she said some of her neighbors were from Haiti. Her apartment was also heavily damaged as firefighters broke through the ceiling to battle the flames.
August woke her son, Steven, and his girlfriend in the adjoining bedroom. Her son said he looked out the back window in horror.
“My mom started yelling, and we all got up. We smelled the smoke and saw it out the window,” Steven August said as he stared at the opening in the ceiling where fire had spread. “My girlfriend started yelling and knocking on doors to get people out. People were trying to escape, and when we got outside, there was one guy was laying down – his head was wide open – pretty desperate.”
The fire building and the two adjoining buildings were slapped with vacate orders by the Department of Buildings because of the damage to the roof and walls where the fire had spread.
The Red Cross was expected to coordinate relocation for up to 40 people who occupied the three buildings.
“My house is messed up and my property is damaged, I just want to know what am I supposed to do – somebody has to pay for this,” August said.