New York City

Missing Tenant Accounted for After Massive Manhattan Fire That Hurt 9: Police

Seven firefighters, one police officer and one civilian all had minor injuries in the wind-swept blaze

What to Know

  • A five-alarm blaze ripped through an upper Manhattan building on Friday afternoon, causing the roof of the building to cave in.
  • A tenant who lived on the top floor was missing Saturday, but was later accounted for, police said.
  • The cause of the fire wasn't yet determined, but firefighters said fierce winds accelerated the blaze.

A tenant who was missing after their upper Manhattan apartment building went up in flames has been accounted for, police said Saturday, meaning no one is believed to have been killed in the massive blaze. 

The update came hours after firefighters said the person was missing and feared to be in the charred shell of the six-story building at West 144th Street and Broadway in Hamilton Heights. 

The tenant lived on the top floor of the building, where flames raged for hours and most of the roof of the building collapsed in Friday's fire. 

Nine people suffered minor injuries in the blaze: a police officer and a civilian suffered smoke inhalation, while seven firefighters had bumps and bruises, FDNY Chief of Department James Leonard said. 

Although officials had earlier feared the building would collapse, the structure was now stabilized, he said. 

Fierce winds spread the fire quickly, fireballs of debris raining down on the street and a thick wall of black smoke shooting into the skyline shortly after it broke out on the top floor around 3:15 p.m.

"It couldn't have been in a worse position for the wind," Leonard said. 

The Red Cross said it was housing and providing support for 20 families, some from the building that burned and others from nearby buildings that were evacuated. 

It's not clear what caused the blaze. There was a sidewalk shed outside the building as a precaution while crews made repairs to a damaged facade, but it wasn't clear whether construction had begun or if it played any role in the massive blaze. 

Elizabeth Mercado told News 4 that she and her 5-year-old son sprinted out of the building after hearing fellow tenants screaming "fire."

"I couldn't believe it," she said. "It's incredible."

Traffic cameras in the area showed smoke pouring from the building, and social media users reported seeing the plume from dozens of blocks away. By 4 p.m., the smoke had transitioned from black to a light gray as ladder trucks laid gallons of water on the flames. 

The same traffic camera showed debris enveloped in flames falling down to to the street below as the facade and roof of the building crumbled under the intensity of the blaze.

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