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Upper East Side High-Rise Fire Leaves 19 Injured

Upper East Side Fire

An extra-alarm fire ripped through a high-rise on the Upper East Side early Saturday. (Credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nineteen people were injured early Saturday in an extra-alarm fire that broke out in an Upper East Side high-rise.

As CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported, the fire broke out at 3:42 a.m. at the Knickerbocker Plaza, at 1751 Second Ave. at the junction with 92nd Street. The fire was driven by strong, gusty winds.

Flames shot from the 12th-floor corner unit of Knickerbocker Plaza. Shattered glass rained down on the sidewalk, and thick, black smoke filled the 40-story tower, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported.

“Just a lot of smoke – filling the apartments, the hallways, everything,” said one resident who lives on the 28th floor of the building.

The alarms in the building were going off, and firefighters were telling residents to stay put.

“(They said), ‘Put a rag under the door, keep your doors closed, and stay by a window; stay low,’” the resident said.

Hector Centeno lives next to the site where the fire broke out.

“There was a fire — we woke up and I heard the alarm, so I went to the hallway, to open up the hallway door. The smoke billows in, so I got my family, made sure they’re safe. I called for help because my son’s autistic, so they came and got us,” he told CBS 2. “But going down the stairs, there’s over 40 firemen in the stairways.”

Firefighters had to be pulled from the burning area, because winds were fanning the flames too much and there was smoke throughout the building.

“It was a wind-driven fire. We utilized two blankets – fire blankets – to control the wind and the heat coming out of the apartment,” said Assistant Fire Chief Ron Spadafora.

A total of 10 civilians and nine firefighters were injured.

The civilians all suffered minor smoke inhalation injuries.

Some of the firefighters had more serious injuries involving burns. Eight only suffered minor burns, but one suffered an injury a little more serious – although not life-threatening, fire officials said.

More than 25 units and 110 firefighters were dispatched to the scene.

By 8:30 a.m., most residents who had been evacuated were being allowed back inside.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation as of mid-morning Saturday.

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