Reporting Paul Murnane
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Three people were killed when a fire erupted inside an apartment building in the Tremont section of the Bronx early Monday morning.
Amateur video captured the blaze breaking out at the brownstone on Prospect Avenue at about 3:30 a.m., reports CBS 2′s John Metaxas.
Neighbors were awakened by terrified screams as they made their own escapes.
“I heard them screaming and yelling and I heard them banging the walls,” neighbor Stephanie Marsh said.
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More than 100 firefighters quickly responded and had the fire out in about 45 minutes.
A 36-year-old man, 40-year-old woman, and their 12-year-old son were killed in the blaze, reports CBS 2′s Kathryn Brown.
Other family members inside the apartment were able to escape, including two small children and another adult relative.
“He came down the steps running. He fell a couple of times but he tried to get the kids out,” neighbor Celinas Almonte said of responding firefighters. “He thought they was all behind him, all the family mate but when he came out he noticed that they wasn’t there.”
Firefighters said the three-story building was engulfed in heavy smoke and flames, and that they had difficulty entering.
“We were met with heavy fire conditions coming out the front door of the building,” FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief James Leonard said. “Obviously, the fire was in the hallway and cut the people off. They could not exit the building.”
Neighbors also said the tragedy might have been prevented. They describe an abandoned building that had been illegally subdivided and was frequented by drug dealers. Chancy Marsh IV said he called 3-1-1 and various city agencies over and over again to do something.
“In fact nothing was done and this is the direct result,” Marsh said.
Con Edison confirmed that the gas and electricity were shut off in the building about two weeks ago. But neighbors wondered if tenants had rigged the wires. The FDNY would only say the cause of the blaze is under investigation. They believe the fire started on the second floor but didn’t say what caused it.
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“I’ve seen things going on, look suspicious as far as that go, but this neighborhood as far as power goes I’ve seen people do all types of things to get energy back in your house,” said neighbor Yohance Marsh.
Residents like Eduardo Sanchez were left with little more than ashes.
“The father was always working, taking care of his kids, taking care of his whole family,” he said. “It’s a terrible feeling right now.”
Four people were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Several firefighters were also treated for smoke inhalation.