NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Members of the NYPD and FDNY were among the 16 people injured in a high-rise fire in Queens.
The fire broke out around 11:30 a.m. on the 11th floor of a 13-story building on Ocean Front Parkway near Beach 87th Street in Far Rockaway.
Resident Winston Ali waited in his apartment for help as the fire engulfed the apartment below.
“I tried to get out, I saw the smoke,” said Ali, whose son was among those injured.
Seven NYPD officers and one sergeant suffered smoke inhalation after they rushed into the building to get people out.
“This is what we do, this is our day to day, this is how we react. It’s innate, it’s in them, and that’s what it means to be a police officer,” said NYPD Captain Vincent Tavalaro.
The officers were given oxygen masks and wheeled off in stretchers, CBS2’s Reena Roy reported.
“They looked like they were trying to breathe. They were coughing,” witness Lauren O’Connor said. “It was pretty scary.”
“It’s just a lot of smoke. It’s just hard for us, because we have a lot of elderly people here,” said tenant Jennifer Grady.
The FDNY also helped tenants out as they strategically battled the difficult fire, taking a different approach because of the windy weather. Firefighters entered the apartment from neighboring balconies instead of going through its front door.
“The wind was blowing in at us. If we opened up the door, that fire most likely would have ran right through the apartment, and right out into the hallway and overrun us,” FDNY Queens Borough Commander Edward Baggott said. “Kudos to everybody.”
Three firefighters sustained minor injuries.
“Thank them so much. It ain’t easy to do that job, and we really appreciate it,” said Grady.
“FDNY immediately on the scene, NYPD were running up right upstairs, you know to the 11th and 12th floors,” O’Connor said. “They did everything they could as soon as they got on the scene.”
One civilian is listed in critical condition. At least two of the injuries are considered serious.
The fire is under control.
Residents will now work to assess the damage in their individual units. At least one family was unable to return home Friday night.
Meanwhile, fire marshals are investigating what caused the fire.