Open Door Allowed UES Fire That Injured 22 To Spread, FDNY Says

The Patch - January 15, 2020

A fire raged in an Upper East Side high-rise building early Tuesday morning, injuring 22. Two victims were in critical condition. By Brendan Krisel, Patch Staff

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — A fire raged through an Upper East Side apartment building early Tuesday morning, injuring 22 people and leaving two in critical condition. FDNY officials are blaming much of the damage on an open door that allowed flames to spread from an apartment into a building hallway.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro urged New Yorkers to close their doors behind them while escaping a fire Tuesday morning. The precaution can contain the spread of flames into communal spaces, fire officials said.

"If you are escaping a fire in your home or apartment, I strongly urge all New Yorkers to 'close the door' to reduce the spread of fire," Nigro said in a statement. "Leaving a door open allows the fire to grow rapidly, spread throughout the building, and puts the lives of building occupants and responding Firefighters in grave danger."

More than 100 firefighters and paramedics battled flames and treated patients for hours on Tuesday morning after a fire broke out on the 24th floor of 515 E. 72nd St., near York Avenue, just before 2 a.m., according to the FDNY. Flames spread from the apartment of origin into a building hallway, causing extensive fire damage and allowing smoke to fill hallways in 17 additional floors of the building, fire officials said.

Of the 22 people who were injured, four were firefighters and 18 were residents. Two residents were taken to the hospital in critical condition, two suffered serious injuries and 14 suffered minor injuries, fire officials said.

The fire was placed under control by 3:25 a.m., an FDNY spokesman said.

Nigro also referenced a Gravesend, Brooklyn fire that injured five people — one critically — on Monday morning in his announcement. Residents did not close their door behind them, causing the building's hallways to fill with smoke, fire officials said. Residents were forced to evacuate using fire escapes because of the smoke, fire officials said.