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Four-alarm fire in the Heights

Four-alarm fire in the Heights

Story, photos and video by Sherry Mazzocchi

A four-alarm morning fire broke out on 1207 St. Nicholas Avenue. </br><i>Photo: Jenson Pichardo </i>
A four-alarm morning fire broke out on 1207 St. Nicholas Avenue.
Photo: Jenson Pichardo

Six people, including four firefighters, were injured in a four-alarm morning fire this past Mon., Nov. 18th in Washington Heights.

Witnesses said the fire broke out at what appeared to be a 99-cent store at 1207 St. Nicholas Avenue, just south of West 174th Street.

Firemen received a call at 10:34 a.m. and were on the scene three minutes later, a New York Fire Department (NYFD) spokesperson said.

Harry Duque, who lives in the same building, said he was sleeping when neighbors banged on his door and told him to get out. “There was smoke everywhere. I rushed out in my pajamas,” he said. “And then I ran back inside to rescue my parrot.”

Firemen rescued several people from the smoke and flames, according to witnesses, including a couple on the third floor and an older man, a young child and their Chihuahua who escaped to the roof when the smoke became too much to bear.

“The firemen rescued three dogs,” said Charlie Hernández, who was half a block away when the fire started.

Four firefighters were injured.
Four firefighters were injured.

One of the dogs, a pit bull puppy, got away from its owner and climbed the stairs to the top of the building.

The firemen managed to follow it and returned the dog to its owner. “At first it was disoriented,” said Duque. “But it was ok. The firemen did a great job.”

Duque was allowed to return home several hours later. His apartment has suffered some damage to the walls and windows, but otherwise it was structurally intact. He said that the building’s electricity and the gas are turned off for the time being.

He was luckier than some of the other tenants. Michael de Vulpillieres, a Red Cross spokesperson, estimated the fire rendered eight to ten apartments uninhabitable. “We are still doing assessments,” he said. “We are providing emergency housing for them.”

Jenson Pichardo was one of the people made homeless by the fire. He lived on the fifth floor. Both the smoke and fire ruined the contents of his apartment.

Two firemen were seriously injured and taken to local hospitals. The other injuries were minor.

The cause of the fire has not been determined.

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