By Tuan Nguyen and Leslie Albrecht
HARLEM — Two people, including an infant, were seriously injured in a fire on West 149th Street Monday afternoon that sent residents scrambling for safety on fire escapes, witnesseses said.
The fire, in a six-story apartment building, forced a mother to climb out of her apartment in her bathrobe clutching her infant child as flames tore through the building, a witness said.
"She was then running to ask for medical help," said R. Poole, who watched the scene unfold from a nearby building. "I saw them [take] both of them away. I hope the baby is doing okay."
The baby, who was believed to be 3 months old, was rushed to Harlem Hospital with very serious injuries, an FDNY spokesman said. Fire officials couldn't confirm whether the other injured person, an adult who sustained serious smoke inhalation injuries, was the baby's mother.
The blaze broke out in a bedroom on the fourth floor of 450 W. 149th St., near St. Nicholas Avenue, about 3:15 p.m., a fire official said. Firefighters were on the scene three minutes later, with 60 firefighters responding to the fire.
The fire quickly spread to the fifth floor and firefighters broke windows on the building's fourth and fifth floors to control it.
"The damage was significant," said Chief Tom Fitzgerald of Battalion 16.
A resident on the fourth floor said he was watching C-SPAN when he heard screaming. The man, who was barefoot, started to go to another room in his apartment to grab shoes, but decided against it and climbed down the fire escape barefoot.
"There were lots of people rushing out through the fire escapes then," said the resident, who didn't want his name used. "The fire was spreading pretty fast. When we reached the ground, the glass [from the windows the firefighters had broken] was raining on us."
The fire was under control at 4 p.m. The cause was still under investigation.