Man, 76, Killed in Smoky Manhattan High Rise Fire on Christmas Morning: FDNY

Because of slow elevators, firefighters had to walk the last 10 flights of stairs with all their gear

What to Know

  • One person was found dead in their high rise apartment unit after a Christmas morning fire
  • One firefighter was also taken to hospital after the Manhattan apartment fire
  • Firefighters faced multiple challenges, including high winds and slow elevators

A 76-year-old man is dead after a fire broke out on one of the top floors of a Manhattan high rise apartment Christmas morning.

Fire officials say 170 firefighters responded after smoke was seen pouring from the windows of the 36-floor apartment at 211 West 56th Street about 7:30 a.m.

JOhn Doktor was found dead when they arrived -- the owner of the apartment on the 35th floor where the fire started.

The cause of the fire was deemed accidental from smoking, according to the FDNY.

Two firefighters were also injured in the blaze, one of whom was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Firefighters faced several challenges in fighting the flames, officials said. High winds made containing the fire difficult, while slow elevators meant after getting to level 25, firefighters had to walk the last 10 flights with all their gear.

"It was a heavy, wind-driven fire," Assistant Chief Joe Woznica said of the two-alarm blaze that sent smoke billowing toward a blue sky. He added that the conditions made it "pretty hot and dangerous" for the 25 fire department units that responded to the scene.

Multiple fire trucks were seen on the street below, and witness video showed flames coming out one of the windows. By 9 a.m. the fire was still not under control, fire officials said.

The Carnegie Mews Apartments are just blocks away from Carnegie Hall and Central Park.

Comedian Jackie Mason's daughter, Sheba, told the New York Post that she lives on building's sixth floor and was woken abruptly and told to rush out.

"I'm wearing my pajamas," she said as sirens blared around her.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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