1 Dead and 17 Injured in Harlem Apartment Fire

One person died and at least 17 people were injured in a two-alarm fire that tore through an apartment building in the Hamilton Heights area of Harlem Friday afternoon, the authorities said.

The Fire Department responded to a call at 2:14 p.m. at 2 St. Nicholas Place, a six-story apartment building with 25 units, officials said. The fire started on the third floor and spread quickly through the floors above, according to the Fire Department.

Twelve people were taken to New York Health and Hospitals Harlem, the police said; five were in critical condition. One person died at the hospital, according to Joseph Pfeifer, the Fire Department’s first deputy commissioner.

When firefighters arrived, several residents were on the building’s fire escapes and three people were trapped, hanging out of fifth-floor windows. Three firefighters were lowered on ropes from the roof to rescue them.

“I told them not to jump, that we’re coming down to rescue them,” Firefighter Chris Lopez, who was involved in the rescue effort, said at a news conference Friday evening.

John Hodgens, the Fire Department’s chief of department, said at the news conference that the firefighters usually conduct one or two rope rescues a year. One person jumped out of a window just before firefighters arrived, Chief Hodgens said. Separately, three people were found unconscious on the sixth floor, he said.

Commissioner Pfeifer described the fire as “very challenging,” saying it had blown into the hallways above the third floor, trapping many residents in their apartments. Mayor Eric Adams, who also spoke at the news conference, called the firefighters’ actions “heroic.”

Regina Shaw, 58, said she was in her apartment on the building’s sixth floor with her son, Samuel, 24, and two dogs when she heard smoke alarms blaring. She ran to her kitchen window, saw smoke billowing out of her neighbor’s apartment and called 911.

Ms. Shaw said that she and her son had grabbed the dogs and tried to leave but that the hallway was filled with smoke. Retreating back into their apartment, they huddled in Mr. Shaw’s bedroom and watched firefighters climbing ladders to get into a neighbor’s apartment from outside.

Almost an hour passed, Ms. Shaw said, before the firefighters reached her apartment from inside the building. They guided the family through the smoky black hallways down to the street.

As the afternoon stretched on, residents sat outside the building at a small pavilion, wrapped in blankets provided by the Red Cross.

“I was worried about you!” one woman shouted out to another.

The second woman said she had made it out safely. She was sitting next to two young children.

“They were in school, thank god,” she said.

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