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Man Critically Hurt in Washington Heights Kitchen Fire, FDNY Says

By  Janon Fisher and Ben Fractenberg | December 9, 2013 3:38pm 

 A man was critically injured in a Washington Heights kitchen fire.
WaHi Kitchen Fire
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WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A brief but intense kitchen fire critically burned one man and injured five others —including three firefighters — in a six-story uptown apartment building Monday afternoon, the FDNY said.

Flames shot out of the windows at 470 W. 166th St. near Amsterdam Avenue about 1:45 p.m., as frightened tenants rushed to the fire escape to get out of the building.

Twelve units of firefighters brought the blaze under control about an hour later, fire officials said.

A 35-year-old man who lives in the third-floor apartment where the fire broke out was most seriously harmed, officials said. The other people who were hurt suffered non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.

A man with a singed jacket, who declined to give his name, said that he was caught on the fourth floor with his daughter, nieces and mother-in-law, unable to use the stairs to escape.

"I had to get down on the fire escape. Flames were coming out of the windows. The windows started breaking," he said. His first concern was his daughter, he said.

"I didn't care about nothing else," he said.

Joel Peguero, 25, who lives on the sixth floor with his mother, said he was asleep when the fire broke out.

Peguero said he and his mother crawled to the front door but were unable to escape the intense smoke. They worked their way back to the window and went down the fire escape, through the billowing black smoke that poured out of the third-floor window.

"My mom's pretty shook up," Peguero said. He said it took them seven to 10 minutes to clear the building because the smoke and flames were so intense.

The FDNY said the cause of the fire was under investigation Monday.