Five people were injured, at least three seriously, in a house fire in Bedford Stuyvesant early this morning, authorities said.
The fire erupted in the three-story brownstone at 4:27 a.m. Monday, authorities said. The front stairs of the Franklin Avenue brownstone were blocked by flames and there was no fire escape in the back. So nine people were trapped inside the "incredibly hot" fire, fire officials said. Firefighters used ropes and aerial ladders to bring them to safety
"They did a good job," eyewitness Baptiste Jano told NBC New York. "I've never seen anything like that. They came to rescue people and they did just what they were supposed to. I shook one of their hands and told them that. A lot more people would have been hurt or even died.
The blaze was brought under control at 5:33 a.m.
One unidentified firefighter was helping a victim to the ladder when the entire room burst into flames. He shielded the victim's body with his own, stifling the flames as he brought the unidentified person to safety. Two firefighters and three residents were seriously injured in the blaze. Four others suffered minor injuries.
Fire officials have not labeled the blaze suspicious, but fire marshals converged on the scene in droves, questioning people on that block and adjoining blocks.
Neighbors wondered aloud if the fire could have been related to a shooting on the block earlier this month.
"I hope its not," said one resident who didn't want to be identified. "For somebody to go after another person and put so many other people in danger is just wrong."