HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Dozens of people are homeless after a seven-story building in Hempstead went up in flames Sunday night.
Nearly 70 residents were forced to evacuate after the fire broke out around 6:20 p.m. on the second floor at 590 Fulton Ave. Investigators from the Fire Marshal’s Office confirmed that a faulty stove sparked the flames, which ripped through four floors. Black smoke filled the hallways. More than 30 people were treated for smoke inhalation.
“All I did was turn on the stove and the bottom just blew up out of nowhere,” tenant Maria Rodriguez told CBS 2′s Weijia Jiang.
Choking back tears, Rodriguez told Jiang she was in the process of moving from the building next door.
“There should have been no reason for that to go up in flames like that,” Rodriguez said.
Firefighters rushed to the scene, going door to door looking for those who might be trapped.
1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports
“Somebody knocked on the door real hard. They said ‘it’s a fire, it’s a fire’ and I ran out of there,” said resident Francis Wright, who escaped with her dog.
“The smoke just busted in the apartment and we couldn’t see anything,” said resident Georgette Edwards.
“I gotta pack up and find some place to go. It’s sad. My food, all my food is gone. You know, it’s crazy,” tenant Rochelle Gorham told CBS 2′s Jiang.
More than 30 people, including two firefighters, were transported to local hospitals for smoke inhalation.
WCBS 880′s Sean Adams reports
“There were numerous people at windows threatening to jump because of the smoke and flames,” said Hempstead Fire spokesman George Sandas. “We had pediatric infants, we had a 1-year-old treated for smoke, we had elderly patients. It ran the full gamut.”
It took more than 300 firefighters from 30 volunteer departments to get the blaze under control.
“This situation is the worst I’ve seen in my 13 years being in elective office,” Village of Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall said.
In all, four floors of the building were destroyed. A shelter was set up by the Red Cross at Hempstead High School to help those displaced by the fire.
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