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Firefighters Battle Blaze At Hamilton Heights Apartment Building

Started On 3rd Floor, Spread Up To 5th, Officials Say

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Firefighters on Sunday battled a blaze at a five-story apartment building in upper Manhattan.

As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, the fire at West 138th Street and Riverside Drive in Hamilton Heights began around 7 a.m. The blaze started on the third floor but spread up to the fifth, fire officials said.

Firefighters raised multiple ladders leading into the building, as smoke billowed out from windows.

The wind gusts blowing in from the Hudson River made battling the blaze more difficult for firefighters as they tried to contain it. The winds fanned the flames, and they spread quickly, trapping a firefighter on the fifth floor.

Firefighters battle a blaze at an apartment building in Hamilton Heights on Nov. 24, 2013. (credit: Roger Stern/1010 WINS)

Firefighters battle a blaze at an apartment building in Hamilton Heights on Nov. 24, 2013. (credit: Roger Stern/1010 WINS)

The winds however eventually changed directions, shifting the flames so the firefighter could escape, an official told 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern.

The blaze forced residents of the building — as well as those in neighboring buildings — to evacuate. The firefighter suffered minor injuries.

“I heard the beeper next door to my apartment going off and I saw the fire trucks, and I got dressed as quick as possible,” said Carl Freeman, who lives in a neighboring building. “Got my wife up and told her, ‘Let’s get out of here quick.’ So she’s in the car across the street warming up, keeping warm, and I’m out here watching what’s going on.

“It’s one of the coldest mornings. I feel sorry for all those people that are out of their homes now.”

“The flames kept whipping up, and we were getting scared because … it just accelerated,” Nadia, who lives across the street, told Stern.

A total of 140 firefighters responded to the blaze, which left dozens of people homeless.

The cause of the fire was unknown.

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