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Nearly 2 Dozen Tenants Displaced by Harlem Fire, Officials Say

By Ben Fractenberg | September 26, 2014 8:11pm | Updated on September 29, 2014 8:53am
 A fire broke out on the fifth floor of 109 West 12th Street Friday afternoon. 
A fire broke out on the fifth floor of 109 West 12th Street Friday afternoon. 
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

HARLEM — A fire that broke out in a severely cluttered apartment spread from the fifth floor to the roof of the building, displacing dozens of residents, fire officials said. 

The blaze started in a fifth floor apartment at 109 West 112th St. at about 5:15 p.m. and quickly spread to the sixth floor, according to the FDNY. No residents were injured in the blaze, but at least six apartments suffered serious damage. 

"The person has a lot of stuff. It’s extremely difficult to move through the apartment and it’s extremely difficult to get to the scene of the fire," Deputy Assistant Chief Mark Ferran said. "The whole apartment was basically on fire and that’s why we have extension to the floor above on the sixth floor and into the space between the top floor ceiling and the roof."

Mark Sunderwirth, 48, was sleeping in his sixth floor apartment when he smelled something burning. 

"My apartment was full of smoke," Sunderwirth said. 

He ran outside to St. Nicholas Avenue and saw "dark smoke" coming out of windows from apartments on fifth and sixth floor. 

"Then a big plume of black smoke," started rising from the roof. 

A woman who lives across the avenue said she could smell the smoke from her home. 

"It was really bad," Shantae Webster, 31, said. "There was nothing but smoke out here."

Ferran said as many as 24 people may not be able to return to their apartments. 

The Red Cross was on the scene to find temporary housing. 

Two firefighters were also treated at the scene for minor injuries, the deputy chief added. 

"Thank God nobody was hurt," Ferran said. "There was nobody at home at the time of the fire."