Firefighters Battle 3-Alarm Fire in Harlem, Dozens Displaced

the fast moving fire spread through the third and fourth floors of a five-story building on West 138th Street

By Sheldon Dutes
|  Sunday, Nov 24, 2013  |  Updated 3:01 PM EDT
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Firefighters Battle 3-Alarm Fire in Harlem, Dozens Displaced

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Firefighters battled a three-alarm blaze in Harlem Sunday morning that left dozens of residents homeless.

According to officials, the fast moving fire spread through the top three floors of a five-story building on West 138th Street in Hamilton Heights after the flames broke out around 7 a.m.

Eliza Garcia said she and her family were forced to scale the fire escape down to the street from their fifth-floor apartment.

"All I saw when my brother opened the door was a lot of smoke," Garcia said. "We couldn't go down the stairs even if we wanted to."

The fire was brought under control just before 9 a.m. Two firefighters were sent to the hospital with minor injuries and one resident was treated for minor injuries at the scene.

Officials say the wind and cold weather conditions made battling the blaze more difficult.

"Very difficult conditions. Wind is usually driving the fire throughout the building," said Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano. "You just don’t move as quickly, ice all over the place."

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, though authorities believe it started in an apartment on third floor.

The Red Cross was on the scene aiding displaced residents.
 

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