A malfunctioning wire triggered the five-alarm fire that struck a Hamilton Heights apartment building on Saturday morning, injuring nine people — including two firefighters, the Fire Department reported.
Dozens of tenants at 617 West 141st St. were also displaced as a result of the massive inferno, which broke out on the sixth-floor at about 1:40 a.m. on Dec. 3. City officials and agencies worked quickly to house the displaced residents.
Later on Saturday afternoon, FDNY marshals reported that the entire inferno was “accidental,” and triggered by electrical wiring in the ceiling on the building’s top floor.
Arriving units were met by heavy fire conditions in multiple top floor apartment encountered along with fire through the roof in the A and B wings of the building, according to FDNY officials.
“We found fire on the top floor, which is the sixth floor, that was already pretty advanced,” said FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens. “The fire quickly extended into the space above the ceiling and the roof which we call the cockloft. The fire rapidly spread throughout the building eventually leading to a fifth alarm.”
The intense fire bringing in more than 200 firefighters to contain the blaze. Fire Department personnel battled the blaze from above working through thick smoke and fire using saws to open up the roof and ventilate the toxic smoke.
All operating personnel were briefly evacuated from the building over safety concerns of a top floor collapse. A tower ladder was put into operation to knock down a majority of the fire.
Seven residents and two firefighters suffered minor injuries and were treated, according to Hodgens. The fire was finally brought under control at about 6:03 a.m. Saturday, according to the Fire Department.
The city’s Emergency Management Department worked to find shelter for the displaced residents.
City Council Member Shaun Abreu took to Twitter Saturday evening to praise the Emergency Management Department’s commissioner, Zach Iscol, “for working around the clock, making sure no one is left behind.” Abreu reported that the displaced families “were taken to a hotel in the Bronx, where they’ll stay for at least a few days.”
The legislator added that he’s working with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development to locate short- and long-term housing for the affected residents.
“In the coming days, our office will be hosting a clothing drive to support families who were impacted by this tragedy,” Abreu said in a statement. “And again, I am grateful for the heroic response by our emergency responders. It is a miracle there was no loss of life in a fire this size. Any resident impacted by the fire can reach out to our office for support by emailing our district director, Franchesco Martinez, at [email protected]”
This story was updated on Dec. 4 at 11:45 a.m.