A fire on the Upper West Side Tuesday afternoon exposed what appeared to be a dangerous crowding situation, with firefighters dumping huge piles of debris out of an apartment window.
Live video from Chopper 4 showed firefighters tossing significant amounts of material from the window of a third-floor apartment at 91st Street and West End Avenue.
"It almost looked like they were shooting a movie," said neighbor Yechiel Rubin, who thought it was a scene from a comedy.
"It was just funny, he threw out a mattress and a bunch of garbage," he said. "Never-ending stuff just coming out there and coming out."
Fire officials say one civilian was taken to the hospital with a minor injury, and the blaze was contained to the one apartment in the 12-story building.
By the time the fire was under control just after 4 p.m., workers were left to clean the mounds of items on the street below, using shovels and even their hands.
But the piles of everything from prescription bottles to letters and plastic bags to appliances barely seemed to move.
Neighbors Darryl and Karen Foster feared they would come home to find their building burned down.
"It's a disaster," said Darryl. "It was a bad situation waiting to happen."
While the FDNY has not pointed to hoarding, the Fosters, who have lived in the building for 20 years, say it was common knowledge that the older couple who lived inside the apartment were hoarders.
"They're not well. They're just not well people," said Karen.
If true, clinical psychologist Jeffrey Gardere says the fire has now dealt the victims a double-blow.
"Not just the fire, but everything they treasure is out on the street."