NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — One woman was killed and several others were injured after a Sunday morning fire ravaged an apartment building in Queens.
Dozens of firefighters arrived at Austin Towers in Rego Park just before midnight.
“I just saw a lot of smoke coming out. The street was full of fire trucks,” Rego Park resident Valia Kaloustin told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.
The fire jolted many out of their sleep.
“The firefighter told us to stay in our apartment. Do not use any elevator or the stairs because the smoke downstairs is really heavy,” resident Troy Zhoe said.
“My roommate called me, ‘There’s a fire in the building!’ So I got my phone and got out of the building,” resident Gunnwan Susilo added.
Four residents from different apartments were taken to the hospital with smoke inhalation, but one woman later died, officials said.
The victim has been identified as 51-year-old Anna Latek. The fire began in her fifth-floor apartment, officials said.
Memories from the burned-out unit littered the bushes on Sunday afternoon.
At the front door was a letter to vacate, condemning the affected units.
“Everything is kind of black. No lights are working. I had to use a flashlight to go back there,” Ridgewood, Queens resident Steve Meditz said.
Meditz went looking for his sister, who lives on the fifth floor. He said he believes she’s safe, but was not able to reach her.
“The smell of smoke, everything with black tar almost. I was in shock,” Meditz said.
So are residents who were able to return to the building, shocked at how dangerous things got in just a few minutes.