NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Firefighters rescued a family of seven early Friday morning after a fire broke out at an apartment building in East Harlem.

It happened around 3:15 a.m. high-rise residential building on East 112th Street. It was under control about an hour later.

Fire officials said the family of seven was sound asleep with their Christmas lights on and their space heater plugged into the same surge protector. The power strip then failed, according to the FDNY, causing their living room to go up in flames.

“The fire was upfront in the living room,” said FDNY Lt. Ryan MacDougall. “The bedrooms are in the back. In this type of construction, there’s no fire escapes so the family had no other option.”

The firefighters quickly searched the sixth floor apartment and found people trapped in every bedroom.

“That’s when I got over the radio and transmitter we had a victim in the bedroom and I need help trying to get him out,” said Probationary Firefighter Amir Francis, who officials said found and rescued a man alongside Firefighter Justin Pelka.

The firefighters used their skills and teamwork to carry the the family through the hallway and out to safety.

Firefighter Osmar Martinez found a woman and four children in one of the bedrooms.

“I grabbed one of the child, I told them I’m gonna take them out,” he said.

The lieutenant said there were also no working smoke alarms, but luckily, the FDNY is trained for this, CBS2’s John Dias reported.

“Firefighting is a team effort,” MacDougall said. “Ninety-one engine and 53 engine, they were there holding the fire back which enabled them to get the guys out.”

All seven members of the family were taken to the hospital, one in serious condition, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.

Following the blaze, members of the FDNY were at the scene handing out information to area residents about fire safety.

They said the family did not have working smoke detectors.

The fire chief is warning people to make sure space heaters are directly plugged into the wall not using extension cords and holiday lights are turned off when sleeping.


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