UNION SQUARE — A loving father and artist died along with his dog in his East 16th Street apartment when extension cords sparked a fire there Monday morning, friends and officials said.
Ed Albers, 59, a Dutch-born painter, was discovered unconscious inside his third-floor apartment at 132 E. 16th St., near Third Avenue, minutes after midnight when a fire tore through, according to NYPD officials and neighbors.
"Firefighters had a ladder up to the roof. They broke out windows. There was a lot of smoke. It was coming through the walls into this building," said Demetrios Argyropoulos, who lives in the building next door.
Argyropoulos saw the FDNY try to save his neighbor.
"He was on a stretcher and they were doing chest compressions. They tried to revive him. He was just in boxer briefs. His eyes were closed. He was just out," Argyropoulos said.
Albers was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital, police said.
His beloved dog, Captain, was also killed in the fire.
"The dog was great, a big mean-looking thing with a soft heart. He was incredibly shy and skittish," said next-door neighbor and longtime friend, William Mandeville.
"That was his best friend," he added.
Albers immigrated to the United States in 1975 and worked in various mediums including painting, photography and stained glass, according to online profiles about him.
Albers, who enjoyed some success in the 1990s, also adored his young daughter who he had with an ex-wife, Mandeville said.
"He was crazy about his daughter. He was very attached to her. When he could see her, he would," the friend said.
The artist was also a gear head, driving his motorcycle until he injured himself while volunteering at Ground Zero after 9/11, neighbors said.
"Mr. Cool. He was always, always Mr. Cool," he added.
Later, after the blaze was extinguished and firefighters had left, the artists apartment door was left open and all that remained inside was a pile of scorched wood and debris. The walls were charred black from the fire.
The fire was an accident and sparked by extension cords in the apartment, according to the FDNY.
The city's medical examiner's office has yet to determine Albers' cause of death, police said.