Smoke Engulfs Upper East Side Apartment Building in Vicious Four-Alarm Fire

NY Daily News - February 09, 2017

by New York Daily News

A raging four-alarm fire sent Upper East Side residents sprinting for safety Wednesday morning as thick smoke billowed through their apartment building, officials said.

More than 170 firefighters responded to the blaze that began in the basement at 1594 Second Ave. and spread quickly to the upper floors of the five-story building, according to the FDNY.

“We had trouble getting to the fire because it was in the walls,” said an FDNY spokesman about the 9:48 a.m. blaze.

Resident Katie Snyder, who lived in a fourth-floor apartment, said she panicked as her living room suddenly filled with blinding smoke.

“I screamed and I was like, ‘There’s a fire, there’s a fire! There’s smoke everywhere!’” said Snyder, who was napping when the blaze ignited. “You could barely breathe, barely see ... I couldn’t even see anything.”

One building resident went banging on front doors to alert people that the place was on fire, she said.

The fire apparently began in the basement of Firenze Ristorante on the street level of the building, although the cause of the blaze remained unknown.

FDNY fire marshals will investigate once the fire is declared under control.

There were four minor injuries reported: Two civilians treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, and two firefighters who suffered bumps and bruises, authorities said.

“Our members performed admirably,” said FDNY Chief Michael Gala “... They did a tremendous job under trying conditions. We were working in the dark under very high heat and smoke conditions.”

The fire and the large FDNY response also created some traffic problems in the Manhattan neighborhood.