NEW YORK — The Red Cross is assisting three families after a four-alarm blaze tore through a residential apartment building Saturday morning near West 115th Street and Morningside Avenue.
Relatives of family displaced returned in the late morning to survey the damage.
“I’m thankful they let us come back in here, thankful no one got hurt,” said John Robinson.
Once the superintendent in the Morningside Heights building, Robinson no longer lives there, but says his family has occupied multiple apartments for nearly 70 years.
His mother escaped Saturday from her first floor unit.
“Thankful we could go into my mother’s apartment and see pictures of the family and everything is all right,” he said.
The first call for help was made before 7:30 a.m. Reaching four alarm status by 8:45, about 200 fire fighters and EMS personnel responded.
No occupants were injured, but 17 firefighters were taken to area hospitals, four reported to have non-life threatening injuries, the others sustained minor injuries, including burns.
“The fire in these types of buildings due to the type of construction often does travel in the walls, through the floor, and sometimes it will auto expose from the fire coming out of the windows and going into the windows above,” said Thomas Richardson, chief of operations for the FDNY.
According to the department, the fire started on the first floor and spread to all six.
Bitter cold weather can pose a challenge in fighting a blaze, sometimes when hydrants freeze. But the Richardson said that wasn’t the case Saturday.
“We did not have any operational issues due to the cold weather. Firefighters operated as usual with great determination. It took a little while to extinguish the fire but they did a great job,” Richardson said.
It took about two-and-a-half hours to get the fire under control.
Around noon, Zakia Jenkins returned to gather her grandmother’s belongings.
“My grandmother was on first floor and they got her out the building, so that’s good. Everything can be replaced my grandmother is alive and that’s all I care about,” Jenkins said.
The cause remains under investigation.
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