Hot, Smoky Fire Draws 3,000 Phone Calls To 911
Fire and police units responding to the scene found the first floor apartment, directly above the entrance to the Mitchell-Lama cooperative fully involved with the flames so hot that they melted the terrace of the second floor apartment directly above.
“The smoke was so dense on the eleventh floor that I was choking,” one resident who left the building told a Wave reporter on the scene. “It was so thick and hot that I thought the fire was right outside my apartment.”
Many residents stood in the chilling cold on their terraces, calling for help from firefighters and police officers far below.
“The smoke really got to people higher up,” a fire department spokesperson said on Tuesday. “That is not unusual. What is unusual was the number of calls for help.”
The first units on scene at 9:23 p.m. included Engines 265 and Ladder 155 and 137.
One resident said that she was worried that fire units took longer to respond because of the recent opening of a new firehouse on Beach 54 Street, which replaced the old Beach 57 Street house. Fire officials, however, said that the response time would have virtually been the same from either location.
A second alarm was sounded by the fire department at 9:40 p.m.
Although one firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation, no civilian injuries were reported. The fire was declared under control at 10:15 p.m. and by 11 p.m., most of the fire units had picked up their lines and returned to their firehouses.
Fire department sources said on Tuesday morning that fire marshals were investigating but that the fire has not been marked as suspicious in origin and a cause was not yet known.
As reported in last week’s Wave, an inert hand grenade was found in that building’s lobby by security personnel last week.