FDNY received the call of a fire at 2402 Benson Avenue, near 24th Avenue, at 9:06 a.m. Sixty firefighters and EMS personnel arrived at the scene by 9.09 a.m FDNY told Bklyner, and were able to place the fire under control by 9:52 in the morning. Five people were injured — one critical, one serious (non-life threatening), and three minor. They were brought to Coney Island Hospital.
By the time firefighters arrived, the fire had spread from the first floor of the building. In the video footage below, a desperate scene unravels: a dark-haired woman wearing a long skirt sat on the ledge of one of the uppermost apartments, clinging to the wall as smoke poured out from behind her. Some tenants congregated in front of the building, while others stood helplessly on their balconies. Sirens and incoherent shouts filled the air.
One tenant, who did not give his name, was shown in the video telling News 12 reporters that he felt firefighters could have gotten there more quickly, as the fire department is right across the street.
“It was chaos,” the man said. When he first realized the building was on fire, he went downstairs – it “wasn’t as bad,” then. When they tried to go back up, however, “it was black.”
He and another tenant, whose wife and mother were still in their apartment, were forced to ascend via the fire escape in the back. He had also feared for the life of a 96-year-old woman living in the apartment under him, who, he said, had thankfully gone out earlier that morning. He told reporters that he had broken a window in order to get inside.
In yet another clip, residents stood in front of the building, wearing blankets. One man, clad in shorts and t-shirt, sat in the back of an ambulance, his face covered with ash. He wore oxygen tubes in his nose.
Another tenant, who gave his name as Bogdan, said that he was woken up that morning by the fire detectors going off. He ran out without grabbing his shoes, then immediately went to pull down the fire escape ladder and help some of the other tenants, some of them children, descend.
“What was going through your head?” The person filming the video asked.
“Nothing,” Bogdan said. “Everyone is alive – [that was] the main goal.”
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.