Fire Tears Through Harlem Apartment Building

DNA Info - March 29, 2011

by Elizabeth Ladzinski DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

HARLEM -- A fire tore through a five-story Harlem residential building Monday afternoon leaving several people homeless, fire officials said.

The blaze started on the first floor of 280 West 115th Street, near Frederick Douglass Boulevard, just after 2 p.m., and spread quickly up to the fifth floor because of renovations being done in the building, the FDNY said.

The three-alarm fire was under control by about 3:45 p.m., fire officials said.

"The landlord came down, opened the door, told me to get out. He saved my life," said Robert Fish, 52, who has lived in the building for a few months. "I just want to get my stuff. I've got a guitar in there I loved."

Concerns about the structural integrity of the building will force residents to spend the night somewhere else, fire officials at the scene said.

The Red Cross was on the scene to help people find shelter.

"It's too dangerous for anybody to continue living there," said FDNY chief Robert Holzmaier.

About seven people who need to be relocated, according to Holzmaier.

Carmen Rivera, 45, who lives on third floor of the building, said she isn't sure where she will sleep if she isn't allowed back into her apartment.

"I'm homeless," Rivera said.

The building received a complaint Feb. 24 for a leaking roof and "debris everywhere," according to the Department of Building's website.

There were no reported injuries, fire officials said.