Firefighter Is Hurt in Blaze in Brooklyn Home

NY Times - December 21, 2004


A fire tore through two floors of a Brooklyn brownstone yesterday, leaving one firefighter seriously burned, the Fire Department said. It was the third serious fire in New York City caused by makeshift heating methods since temperatures dipped drastically on Sunday night.

Louis Garcia, the chief fire marshal, said officials believed that the Brooklyn fire, which was reported at 3:50 p.m., started after a resident left his stove unattended. The man, Curtis Johnson, 47, a security guard, disputed that account, although he told investigators that he often used the stove to heat the apartment, Chief Garcia said.

The apartment, at 155 Herkimer Street in Stuyvesant Heights, has not had heat or hot water for five months, Chief Garcia said.

As firefighters searched for the source of the fire and for victims, some firefighters were briefly trapped on the stairs and on the fourth floor. Firefighter Ken Ditata of Ladder Company 111 was burned when the fire suddenly exploded on the third floor. A 19-year veteran, he suffered burns to his face and hands and was in stable condition last night at New York Weill Cornell Center.

In Jackson Heights, Queens, on Sunday night, a stove left on in a home on 76th Street that did not have heat started a fire at about 10:30 p.m. that left one person with minor injuries, Chief Garcia said.

At 5:15 a.m. yesterday, a two-alarm fire that began when a space heater ignited some household items gutted an apartment in a 19-story building at 7 East 14th Street in Manhattan, Chief Garcia said. The owner of the apartment had disconnected her stove and shut off the central heat, Chief Garcia said.

At least one other fire, which destroyed a home yesterday in Midland Beach, Staten Island, was related to the weather. It was started by a boiler malfunction, Chief Garcia said.

Janon Fisher and Colin Moynihan contributed reporting for this article.