BROOKLYN, NY (CBSNewYork) — A firefighter was seriously hurt, and more than a dozen residents were left homeless, by a raging fire Saturday morning in Brooklyn.
The dramatic scenes from the Prospect Heights inferno were caught on camera, reports CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.
A massive fire consumed every inch of the building at 816 Washington Avenue. The building was vacant and under construction, closed except for a store on the first floor.
The blaze grew to four alarms and traveled from building to building down Washington Avenue.
Three buildings down, at St. John’s Place, a section of the fire ravaged wall buckles and crumbled with such force that bricks were sent flying.
Even though firefighters were standing back a full 100 feet, they weren’t back far enough – one brick struck one of New York’s Bravest, breaking the firefighter’s cheekbone.
“He got hit with a chunk of brick, an L-shaped cut. These members were standing fast, already pulled back,” FDNY Deputy Chief John Mooney said. “Normally, a five-story building, at least 50 feet is our collapse zone, plus an extra 50 feet because of how the bricks fly. They were at the edge, and it went farther than expected.”
Several other firefighters suffered minor injuries not in the collapse, but while battling the blaze.
A 90-year-old resident was also hospitalized and treated for smoke inhalation.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation Saturday night. Investigators said they need to get in closer, but that they’ll have to wait until they can be sure the that the building is sturdy enough.
“We cannot go into the building, and we have not searched the building yet,” Mooney said. “It is too unstable.”
In two heavily damaged buildings next to the initial vacant one, more than a dozen families were forced from their homes. They’re unsure when they’ll be allowed to return.
The Red Cross was helping 15 families who were forced to leave their homes as a result of the fire and collapse. Five of them received emergency housing.