An early morning apartment fire in Harlem has killed two people — a woman in her 30s and a man in his 80s — and left a few others injured, including the woman's 4-year-old girl who suffered severe burns and 3-week-old baby, officials said Friday.
Authorities say the fire broke out in apartment 3D in a building on Seventh Avenue near 110th Street around 1:30 a.m. The residents of that apartment were able to get out safely but flames and smoke spread to the apartment above. That's where firefighters found three unconscious people.
Other residents fled through the fire escape and a total of nine people were rescued, the FDNY said. A 37-year-old woman identified as Adiantou-Nene Korouma and an 81-year-old man died after suffering critical injuries. The man's identity is being withheld pending proper family notification.
"I guess she was too scared to leave the apartment, so by the time they got to her, she was already engulfed with smoke," Sandra Foley said of Korouma. The 81-year-old, she added, had been a music teacher at Julliard.
Four people were taken to a hospital, including the badly burned 4-year-old girl. She was initially in serious condition but stabilized hours after the blaze.
A 1-month-old boy, a 56-year-old woman and a 44-year-old woman were also hospitalized with fire-related injuries but are expected to be OK. A firefighter suffered minor injuries as well.
"I ran to open the door of my living room, as soon as I opened the door there was nothing but black smoke everywhere," explained one of the building's tenants, Efrain Sarmiento.
Fire officials said a "heavy clutter condition" complicated their response. In the hours immediately following the blaze, investigators were able to determine a door was left open to the apartment where the fire started, losing a pivotal barrier to slowing the its spread.
A cause of the blaze is under investigation, while several families have been displaced.