The fire erupted around 5:45 p.m. at Our Lady of Mercy Manor, terrifying the home’s elderly residents following coronavirus shelter-in-place orders, witnesses said.
Firefighters had the blaze under control about 25 minutes later.
A building manager who declined to give his name told The Post the man who died had started the fire accidentally when he lit up a cigarette.
“It was very scary — especially for the seniors. I got a call. I rushed over here from Yonkers,” said Mary, 66, whose elderly aunt and uncle live in the building.
“But when I arrived I couldn’t get in. I’m like, ‘He’s 89 and deaf. She’s 86 and blind. I need to see them. They’re my people.’ They were scared because they didn’t know what’s going on.”
The Fire Department said the incident was still under investigation.
“There was a fire in the apartment from someone smoking. A resident. He was smoking cigarettes and something caught fire,” the building manager said.
The residents were hunkering down in the building to protect themselves from the virus, which has proven particularly dangerous for older adults.
The manager said Our Lady of Mercy has not had a known coronavirus outbreak.
“They’re self-quarantine[ing] because they’re old. But not because there sick,” he said. “They’re staying inside and now this happens.”