Fire at Harlem Apartment Building Forces Residents Into Cold Overnight

CBS 2 - February 22, 2020

by CBS 2 NY

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Flames and smoke filled a Harlem apartment building overnight, forcing dozens of residents into the cold.

The fire broke out around 2:15 a.m. at a building on Bradhurst Avenue near West 145th Street.

Residents told CBS2’s Reena Roy they were awoken from their sleep and rushed outside in their pajamas.

“I was just scared, because it was the middle of the night, I was sleeping,” Bryan Aguirre said. “I didn’t have time to react, I just left outside with shirt and shorts… Some people didn’t have clothes, some people didn’t have shoes, some people didn’t have their phone, their wallets.”

Aguirre said it was so chaotic he hurt himself on shattered glass and burning debris as the ran to safety.

“Everybody tried to evacuate everybody,” he said. “The glass started falling down with the flames, and I cut myself in my leg, my toes.”

Another man told Roy the fire started inside his aunt’s room on the fifth floor.

“It started with a small flame, then we tried to take it off, throw some water on it. But as soon as we threw the second bucket on it, the flames just got bigger,” he said.

He said a candle could be to blame, but the official cause is under investigation.

Meanwhile, several families with badly damaged apartments are trying to figure out what comes next.

“At the moment, just trying to get everything together, you know. I feel like this never happened to me, so it’s something that just shocks you,” one resident said. “We’re just glad that everyone is alright.”

The Red Cross said it’s helping about 30 tenants, including 10 children, with temporary housing.