NEW YORK CITY — A huge fire broke out in the top floor of an apartment building Monday afternoon just steps from City College, officials and tenants said.
The Hamilton Heights fire broke out at 520 West 139th St. about 3:45 p.m, said a Fire Department spokesman.
Sylvia Dominguez, whose family has lived in the building for 50 years, said that the a/c unit in one of the top floor apartments went on automatically, shut down suddenly and then flames started shooting out of it.
"We all ran out of the building. There was a big flame shooting out the window. The windows were popping. The a/c popped out of the window," Dominguez said.
Roughly 200 firefighters from 44 fire units fought the blaze, fire officials said.
Solvi Cruz, who lives in the unit where the blaze broke out with her four children, husband and mother, said the fire destroyed all their possessions.
"We lost everything. It's very frust for my family, but at least we're alive," she said before breaking down in tears.
Neighbors said that fire has shaken tenants of the building.
"Everyone's just scared. It was like a bomb blew up," said Dominguez.
The flames were so intense at one point that the ladder from a fire truck caught fire and firefighters were forced to retreat, witness Rosa Yufvel, 22, said.
Five firefighter was taken to Weill Cornell Medical Center and three were taken to St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, all with minor injuries.