NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nearly two dozen people, including five firefighters, have been injured in a smokey fire at a city homeless shelter in Morningside Heights Friday morning.
It took firefighters about an hour to bring the blaze under control after flames broke out on the ninth-floor of the 18-story building at 2720 Broadway around 6:15 a.m.
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports: Residents say chaos broke out after the fire
Residents told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg that they were trapped inside the burning building for up to 45 minutes.
“It was fire everywhere, I got my family together, when we ran to the emergency exit it was locked and security was nowhere to be found, they completely just left us in the building to burn,” Latisha Minor, a resident on the 11th floor, said.”
Residents said the alarms failed to sound and the sprinkler system wasn’t working.
“I feel unsafe,” one tenant said. “I just want to go back upstairs and get my stuff. I don’t want to be here anymore.”
One woman told Sandberg that she was trapped inside her bathroom, huddled up with her husband and newborn child. The woman said they were saying prayers and thought that they were going to die.
Twenty-one people were injured, including at least one 14-year-old girl suffering from burns. They were rushed to Harlem Hospital with minor injuries, officials said.
The cause of the blaze was under investigation.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said he was “distrubed” by the residents’ claims and is calling on the city to conduct an immediate investigation.
There are as many as twelve outstanding Environment Control Board violations in this building, some of which are related to construction safety and elevator maintenance, and any investigation should determine if these violations contributed to the cause of the fire,” Stringer said.
The Department of Homeless released a statement saying, “We have been cooperating fully with the fire department as details come forward and that any family who’s unit that was damaged as a result of today’s events will be immediately transfered to alternate housing.”