Massive Fire Displaces Families From Amsterdam Ave. Apartment Building

By Paul Lomax and Aidan Gardiner  on January 24, 2013 7:26am  | Updated on January 24, 2013 12:37pm

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A massive fire tore through an Amsterdam Avenue building late Wednesday, leaving several apartments badly scorched and families displaced on a freezing night.

The Washington Heights blaze broke out about 8 p.m. on the second floor of 2440 Amsterdam Ave. and quickly spread through the walls of the five-story building, an FDNY spokesman said.

Jose, a 28-year-old who's lived in the building since childhood, was getting ready to walk his dogs when he saw smoke filling the hallway.

"We got everyone out of the second floor," Jose said. "Then we saw that the fire was spreading, so we ran up to the third floor and saw more smoke.  We were worried the fire was going wall to wall, so we had to evacuate everybody.

"I was carrying old women down the stairs. I don't know their names, but we're all neighbors here so we stick together," he added. "It was scary, but I just did what I had to do."

Nearly 10 apartments were scorched in the blaze and several others sustained water damage, fire officials on the scene said Wednesday night.

The Red Cross was on the scene to provide assistance to those tenants who were displaced by the fire.

Four firefighters sustained minor injuries and were taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital - Weill Cornell, an FDNY spokesman said. A civilian was also injured in the fire, but refused medical treatment at the scene.

The inferno was brought under control about 11 p.m., three hours later.

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