The four-alarm blaze started in a second-floor apartment around 2:30 a.m. on Carroll Street near Kingston Avenue, a fire department spokesman stated. It was the apartment's second fire in less than four months, residents said, and it was brought under control around 4:15 a.m.
"God knows what happened," said Dvorah Eidelman, 43, who said the blaze started in her uncle's apartment.
The unit was undergoing renovations from a May 28 fire, Eidelman recounted, which started after the uncle, Mordechi Gil, left a pot on the stove. Gil, who went to live with friends while the repair work was being performed, could not be reached for comment.
Eli Raskin, a father of four who lives in the building, said he awoke around 3 a.m. Monday to the sound of a smoke detector going off.
“I told my wife to grab our 7-month-old baby,” said Raskin, who then ran to get his other children, ages 3, 6 and 7, out of the house.
“By the time we got down the stairs, we couldn’t see a thing,” he added.
Raskin said the only possessions he could salvage from the fire-ravaged building were several photo albums and religious items.
“I don’t know what woke me,” Raskin said. “It was a miracle.”
Zee Rocker, who lives in the neighborhood, stood outside the building in tears on Monday morning. Rocker said she had been caring for the cat of a friend who lives in the building where the fire broke out.
But Rocker said the 7-year-old cat, Mashka, had yet to be found.
“I was taking care of her beloved cat twice a day,” Rocker said of her friend, who is in Israel. “They have a very special relationship. I can’t even describe it.”
Fire officials said it was not immediately clear what started the fire. They declined to state whether it was suspicious.