Fire ravages Upper East Side residential building in NYC

Newsday - October 13, 2006

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NEW YORK (AP) A three-alarm fire ravaged an unoccupied Upper East Side townhouse building early Friday morning, forcing nearby residents to evacuate and sending flames and huge amounts of smoke into the air.

"I saw flames going all the way to the moon," eyewitness Keya Morgan said.

Firefighters placed the fire under control three hours after the call about the five-story building first came in around 2:30 a.m., a fire department spokesman said. There were no reports of major injuries, but one firefighter suffered minor injuries.

The spokesman said the fire's cause is under investigation, but that it is considered suspicious.

The building is located at 115 E. 70th St. near Park Avenue. WABC-TV described it as a historic, six-family townhouse building more than 80 years old. About 140 firefighters responded to the blaze.

"There was a tower of flame coming out of the building ... it looked like the finale of the fireworks on the Fourth of July," neighbor Kathy Slowne said.

The American Red Cross and other emergency crews helped provide temporary shelter for nearby evacuees, including putting some on a bus to stay warm. It was not immediately clear how many people had to leave their homes.

The fire occurred not far from the high-rise building at 524 E. 72nd St., an apartment tower into which a small airplane carrying New York Yankee Cory Lidle crashed on Wednesday.