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Inwood Fire Kills Dog, Forces Dozens From Their Homes

By Carla Zanoni | December 9, 2010 9:51am | Updated on December 10, 2010 6:54am

By Carla Zanoni

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

INWOOD — A dog named Murphy and a cat named Kelly were killed in a fast moving fire that tore through two stories of an Inwood apartment building Thursday morning and sent four people to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

The Red Cross said 46 residents of a 6-story building at 510 West 218th St. — 31 adults and 15 children — were forced out of their homes and into the early morning cold after the blaze broke out in a second-floor apartment at roughly 7:38 a.m.

At least four other pets were also evacuated from the building. Residents clutched their shivering dogs in American Red Cross blankets trying to keep warm while watching firefighters battle the blaze. Later they were taken to Columbia University’s Baker Field to receive services and information about when they might be able to return home.

City Councilman Robert Jackson spoke to the residents in the early afternoon telling the crowd they would be allowed to return to their homes temporarily once the building received clearance from the FDNY and Department of Buildings.

"Get your valuables and your medication, now that you are safe, that is what is important," he said.

Inwood native John Galvin, best known in the community for his paranormal investigations, lived with his wife, Kristen, in the second floor apartment where the fire started.

He said he received a call from his wife who said flames rapidly scaled the walls of their apartment as she tried to escape and rescue their miniature dachshund named Murphy.

A neighbor tried to help when Murphy leapt from Kristen Galvin's arms and ran into the burning apartment.

Kristen Galvin was one of five people taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation where she was evaluated and then released, according to her husband.

The dog died in the blaze according to fire officials, Galvin said.

A man who lives on the third floor of the building said his cat, Kelly, also died in the fire, but officials said they could not yet confirm the animal's death.

Martin Vasquez, 28, who lives in the building next door, was on his way to work when he spotted a woman on the fire escape.

"I saw a lady come from the fire escape. She was screaming," Vasquez said. "So I started knocking on all of the doors and then went [home] to make sure my wife and three kids were OK."

Two firefighters and three residents were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation, including two firefighters, according to FDNY Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Saccente.

None of the injuries were thought to be serious.

The fire quickly spread from Galvin's second floor apartment to the hallway and then to an apartment on the third floor, Saccente said.

"The flames just shot up the side of the building," neighbor Shane O'Neil said. "It was so fast."

Flames could be seen rising up from the courtyard between 510 West 218th St. and its neighbor building 108 Park Terrace East.

Rebecca Kuehl who has lived in the Park Terrace East building for two years said she watched the flames from her apartment window.

"I could hear people screaming from their fire escapes and then we heard the sirens," she said. "It was scary."

Fire fighters responded to the fire at 510 W. 218th St around 7:38 a.m.
Fire fighters responded to the fire at 510 W. 218th St around 7:38 a.m.
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DNAinfo/Mariel S. Clark