A 3-alarm fire ripped through a five-story East Village apartment building late Monday afternoon, fire officials said.
The fire triggered many residents of the area with ‘dejavu’ – recalling the March 26, 2015 fire-gas explosion that killed two people and leveled the buildings across the street on Second Avenue.
This fire began just before 4 p.m. in duct work, possibly from one of two cafes on the ground floor of 48 East 7th Street and quickly spread into all floors and to the roof of the apartment building. Residents were quickly evacuated and firefighters then had the task of chasing the fire through the walls and into the roof.
The fire quickly spread throughout the building, but was mostly smoke observed from the street. Hoses were stretched up the sides of the buildings as firefighters on the inside had to break open walls to find the fire.
No injuries were reported by Emergency Medical Services, though damage was reported to be heavy. The Red Cross will probably have to relocated numerous people from the apartment building, fire officials said.
Residents of a building across the street admitted they were a bit scared that another fire may level an apartment building again.
“I was at work when that fire happened, and I got a call and came back here and the whole building was on fire,” said Lorenzo Madera, a resident of the buildiung across the street from both the gas explosion from 2015 and the current fire. “I still can’t believe it and now we have another one. This is crazy.”
Elena Cisneros watched firefighters extinquishing the smoke fire from the roof of her own building across the street. She said the fire scared her.
“The fire started about 30 minutes earlier and it was just like you see it now, smoke all the way to the roof,” Cisneros said. “I didn’t see anyone come down the fire escape, so they must’ve got people out early. It’s really eerie thinking about this especially knowing what happened across the street – some people are living here 20 plus years, we only moved in a year after and there was no building there. But people remember it and still talk about it.”
The fire was brought under control in about an hour and a half, but by then, the building had suffered extensive interior damage.
Many firefighters remembered the 2015 fire that engulfed three buildings as a result of a gas explosion. Two people died in that fire that ended in the collapse of all three buildings. Several people were recently convicted of involuntary manslaughter for an illegal gas hook up that apparently caused the explosion.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known and would be investigated by fire marshals.