A massive four-alarm fire ripped through the roof above three apartments in a Brooklyn condo building Thursday afternoon, fire officials said.
More than 150 firefighters the afternoon blaze for almost two hours at 811 Cortelyou Road in Kensington, Brooklyn. No injuries were reported at this time, fire officials said.
At least three apartments were heavily damaged by the fire that started on the roof where workers were installing new tar-based roofing materials. It is unclear as to how exactly the fire was started, but roofers routinely use torches to heat up roofing materials to make it adhere to the existing, roof structure.
The fire broke out shortly before 2 p.m. on the roof of 811 Cortelyou Road, a large six story building that stretches the entire length of Cortelyou Road from East 8th to East 7th Street. Arriving firefighters found heavy smoke pouring from the roof of the building and from at least one of three apartments below.
A second alarm was called and more firefighters came pouring into the building to try to stop it from spreading, but the river of tar fueled fire had already entered into the cockloft, the space between the roof and apartment, causing the fire to spread into adjoining rooms.
The fire eventually went to four alarms, bringing in more than 150 firefighters and EMS personnel as the fire shot into the air from several locations on the roof. Firefighters in the apartments and above were then able to hit the fire with hoses from both sides, eventually cutting it off from further spread.
But by then, the fire had damaged the three apartments, and dwellings below were saturated with water.
One resident said workers on the roof were “rushing away” when the fire first started.
“They were a bunch of hispanic guys and they were running like they were scared – like when you do something bad,” said Mary Dillon, a resident of the building, but who’s apartment was not affected.
“I was going out of the building, and then the firemen were coming in with hoses, we just came out and saw a lot of smoke, we didn’t know there was a fire,” Jacob Isaac, who with his wife, evacuated their grandchildren Irina Andre and her sister Lydia.
“I was scared,” said 6-year-old Lydia. When something bad like this happens, people can get burned, and then they have no where to live.”
Other residents said workers were replacing the roof, some apartments recently had suffered water damage due to leaks.
The fire was brought under control at about 4 p.m., but by then a gapping hole was in the sixth floor 8th Street wing of the building and numerous people would be left homeless.
Fire marshals were on the scene of the fire and were investigating whether the roofers were equipped with fire extinguishers or whether they took proper precautions fixing the roof. The fire is not considered suspicious at this time.