NEW YORK CITY — Firefighters battled a blaze at a West Harlem building Friday that left one man with critical injuries, FDNY officials said.
The fire broke out at 509 W 134th St. shortly before 3 p.m. and was brought under control just after 3:30 p.m., fire officials said.
A man, whose identity was not released, was taken to New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in critical condition, officials said.
A fire chief on scene said the the injured man was found unconscious on the fifth floor.
He added that 3-4 firemen suffered minor injuries. The fire started the a fourth-floor kitchen and spread up to the 5th floor, the FD chief said. Marshals are still investigating what sparked the blaze.
Francisca Aguirre, 49, who lives on the fourth floor, said the fire started in her apartment kitchen while she was in her bedroom getting ready to pick up her daughter from school. It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, she and her family said.
"I was inside my bedroom when I started smelling smoke," she said, adding that a neighbor began banging on her door. She said that she escaped from the fire escape with her son.
Margarita Batista, 46, escaped from her second-floor apartment with her 13 year old son Jayma.
"When I heard somebody yell "fire, fire," I ran out of the building," she said, "I'm scared - I don't know what I'm going to do when they let us back inside."
Manuel Urena, 24, who also lives on the fourth floor, called 911 after he heard a tenant running from the fifth floor:
"She started screaming 'fire,'" he said, saying he saw smoke coming from under a neighbor's door and kicked it open to see if anyone was inside.
"We saw smoke coming out from the sides of the door. After we kicked the door open we saw flames and black smoke. We couldn't see anything - it was all black smoke. I couldn't breathe," he said, adding that he and his sister fled.