CENTRAL HARLEM — A month-old kitten named Lucky survived a huge fire that tore through a Harlem 99 cents store Tuesday morning, witnesses and officials said.
Lucky was in his basement home at 2610 Frederick Douglass Blvd., near West 139th Street, while his owner, building super JR Vincent, 47, was getting ready to take out garbage when flames broke out in the ground floor of the building about 9:20 a.m., officials said.
Vincent, who had worked in the building for six years and took the cat in to keep him company, desperately tried to find the tiny feline but was overwhelmed by smoke and had to evacuate the building, he said.
"I couldn't find him," said Vincent who lives on 114th Street.
"This is my little baby. I was losing my mind. I was crying and everything."
As the fire raged for another hour and Vincent began to fear his beloved kitty had perished.
The blaze spilled smoke into the street and the floors above until about 140 firefighters brought it under control about 10:30 a.m., FDNY officials said.
Finally, a firefighter brought Lucky out in a small box — seemingly unharmed.
"I had tears in my eyes," said Vincent. "I thought I'd never see him again."
Tenants were scrambling down fire escapes and fleeing the building when firefighters arrived at the scene, FDNY officials said.
"I was sleeping and then I smelled smoke and I knew we needed to get out," said third-floor tenant Naim Najib.
"It was frantic. There was a lot of panic, but we stayed calm and got out."
Four civilians and seven firefighters were treated for minor injuries at area hospitals, an FDNY spokesman said. Another civilian refused medical attention at the scene.
Several apartments were damaged along with a realty business next door.
Fire marshals were still trying to determine what sparked the blaze, officials said.