NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Nearly 30 firefighters suffered minor injuries while battling a six-alarm blaze in the Bronx.
The fire began just after midnight Wednesday at a building on Walton Avenue about a block away from Yankee Stadium.
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The entire building was evacuated as crews worked to contain the blaze, which broke out in the back of the building on the sixth floor. It then spread to two other units and through a cockloft, forcing a partial roof collapse.
“It’s really scary because you see this on the news all the time but you never think it could happen to your building,” said resident DeShannon Tanner.
“I thought the building was going to explode,” fire victim Mary Paden said.
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More than 200 firefighters responded to the blaze, but the location of the flames inside and the brutal heat outside was a serious challenge.
“By the time we stretch lines up to the sixth floor rear of this building, we probably stretched 200 feet of hoseline. That in itself is an exhaustive task,” said FDNY Chief of Department Edward Kilduff. “Then to move in and start putting out the fire just compounds the challenge.”
The historic building is part of the Grand Concourse Preservation Society. The fire chief said about a third of the 180 units are not livable.
“You never expect nothing like this to happen,” victim Donnell McMillion, who woke up to cries from his 5-year-old son screaming for help, said. “You look at homeless people and you wouldn’t think it could be you.”
Residents have only been allowed back into the building to gather essential belongings while inspectors from the Department of Buildings determine which units are livable.
The Red Cross has been helping displaced residents with food and shelter at the All Hallows High School.
In all, 28 firefighters and two civilians suffered minor injuries.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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