Firefighters Rescue Cat, Residents From Brutal Downtown Blaze

NY Daily News - January 05, 2011

by Sarah Armaghan and Rocco Parascandola

A raging fire ripped through an East Village building early Tuesday, but there were no serious injuries - and one purrfect rescue.

"My baby!" 48-year-old Robbin Schwartz cried out after a firefighter approached holding her beloved 10-year-old tabby, Charlotte.

"I was so worried," she said. "Her companion just died before Thanksgiving. I didn't want to lose her, too."

The fire started in East Village Farm Health Food and Grocery on Second Ave. about 3:50 a.m. and took more than 100 firefighters to bring under control.

The flames caused damage to the first three floors of the six-story building, with smoke spreading through the 10 apartments it houses.

Seven people were treated for minor injuries.

Battalion Chief Joseph Ferrante said they still haven't pinpointed the cause of the blaze.

Firefighters also battled another stubborn early morning Manhattan blaze in a four-story Alphabet City apartment building at 507 East 6th St.

The fire erupted in a ground floor restaurant called "The Kitchen," and the smoke quickly spread to the building's eight apartments. There were no reported injuries, but resident Jessica Calef was outraged she was evacuated twice.

"After about an hour (after the first fire report) they told us we could go back in," said Calef, 27. "Then, after a few minutes, they said there was another fire on the second floor. We had to evacuate all over again"

"I can't believe they let us back in before it was safe," she said. "What would have happened if it burst into flames? We would all be dead."

With Matthew Lysiak and Corky Siemaszko