Playwright Killed in High-Rise Fire on West Side

By DNAinfo Staff  on January 5, 2014 1:30pm  | Updated on January 6, 2014 11:24am

 Daniel McClung died in a three-alarm fire at a West 43rd Street residential tower, officials said.
Daniel McClung died in a three-alarm fire at a West 43rd Street residential tower, officials said.
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YouTube/neil jacobson and Facebook/danieljmcclung

THEATER DISTRICT — A Manhattan playwright was killed and his husband was in critical condition after they tried to escape a fire in a high-rise Sunday morning that poured smoke into the apartments above, according to officials, witnesses and reports.

Daniel McClung, 27, was trying to flee to safety after a blaze started about 11:02 a.m. in a 20th-floor apartment of The Strand, a 41-story tower at 500 West 43rd St., filling higher floors with smoke, FDNY and NYPD officials said.

McClung, who lived on the 38th floor, was found in the stairwell seven stories down after suffering severe smoke inhalation, officials said.

He was taken to Roosevelt Hospital and pronounced dead, police said.

A 32-year-old man, whom The New York Times said was McClung's husband, was also found in a stairwell and taken to New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital in critical condition after inhaling smoke as well, the FDNY said.

McClung was a playwright and fiction writer who worked for the Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, PS 122, and AliveWire Theatrics, according to his online profile.

More than 130 firefighters battled the blaze for nearly two hours before bringing it under control about 12:58 p.m., according to FDNY spokesman Danny Glover.

Some residents were regularly posting updates on their situation to social media.

"Still stuck. Too much smoke on hallways. Elevators not working. Standing in balcony with wife and 2yr old," Mickey Atwal tweeted at 11:26 a.m. Sunday.

Atwal and his family escaped unharmed, but approximately six other people were injured at the scene, and some firefighters suffered minor injuries, Glover said. None of them need hospital treatment.

Four units sustained serious damage and residents living on the floors above and below the fire were not allowed to return on Monday night, according to a spokesman for the American Red Cross.

The building's management company, FirstService Residential, had few details on the fire on Monday morning.

"We don't have any information right now. We're waiting on the report from the Fire Department," said Dana Collins, a spokeswoman for the company.

She added that the building had made residents aware of its fire safety plan, but could not give details about the plan itself.

Investigators had yet to determine what sparked the blaze, officials said Monday morning.

 

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