SoHo Fire Sends Firefighters, Resident to Hospital

WNBC 4 - August 05, 2011

by Katherine Creag

A fire broke out in an apartment in the heart of SoHo early Friday morning, sending a resident and 10 firefighters to the hospital.

Witnesses say the fire started in the basement. The flames traveled all the way up to the sixth floor of 68 Thompson Street. That building, as well as 72 Thompson, was evacuated.

Residents told NBC New York they didn't hear a smoke alarm go off. Neighbors banging on doors and yelling for them to get out woke them up.

Residents said the hallways were smoky and dark. "I couldn't see anything. Not an inch in front of me," one resident told NBC New York. "I was asking where to go. Go up, go down? I didn't know where the fire was. It was insane."

The Thompson Street residents made their way down the stairs. Several helped one of the oldest residents, a 92-year-old woman.

The Red Cross has set up a command center at Broome and Thompson Streets. It has placed six families in emergency housing. In those six familiar, there are 10 adults, one child and one dog. Other displaced residents are staying with friends or relatives.

The resident taken to the hospital had minor smoke inhalation. That individual, who wasn't identified, is expected to be fine, according to the FDNY.

Of the 10 firefighters hospitalized, one had a heart condition, at least two had serious burns, two had minor smoke inhalation and others had problems related to minor exhaustion. The extent of the burned firefighters' injuries wasn't immediately clear.

Fire marshals have yet to enter the fire-ravaged building. The structure is so badly damaged that they first need to assess the safety of the complex.