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84-Year-Old Man Dies in Hamilton Heights Fire

By  Chelsia Rose Marcius and Alan Neuhauser | May 14, 2012 8:07am | Updated on May 14, 2012 12:09pm

NEW YORK — An 84-year-old man died in a fire in Hamilton Heights Sunday night, the NYPD reported.

The man's identity has not been released. No criminality was suspected.

The man was found at about 9:30 p.m. as 106 firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze at the Henry Brooks Senior Housing center at 304 W. 154th St., the FDNY said. An ambulance rushed the man to Harlem Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Cornies Hawthorne, 89, who lives on the third floor of the center, just a few doors down from the victim, said he stepped out of his apartment Sunday night after the smell of smoke filled the hall. Hawthorne said he traced the scent to his neighbor's apartment.

"I knocked and he didn't answer," Hawthorne said of his friend.

He said he tried to rescue his friend before firefighters arrived but was overcome by the smoke of the blaze.

"The black smoke jumped out at me," Hawthorne said. "It was so thick I could feel it in my throat."

Investigations into the man's death and the cause of the fire remain ongoing. The blaze was brought under control at 9:52 p.m., fire officials said.