NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – More than a dozen people were injured when a massive fire ripped through multiple homes early Thursday morning in Brooklyn.
Sources tell CBS2 the four-alarm blaze is being investigated as possible arson.
Investigtors want to talk to a man seen in the driveway moments before the fire started.
The fire broke out around 4 a.m. on East 17th Street near Avenue O in Midwood. Flames quickly spread from one house to a pair of neighboring homes.
Web Extra: FDNY Update On Massive Fire In Midwood, Brooklyn
Video from a neighbor’s security camera shows a man running away and the flames erupting at the front of the house. It’s a clue that gives police reason to believe this could be arson, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
“Terrible. Terrible thing… I don’t know what, how anyone can have the stomach to live with themselves after creating such a tremendous destruction, and especially young children and men and women in so much danger,” said Nathaniel Bouskila, who was treated for smoke inhalation. He was one of 14 people injured in the fire. Nine civilians, including a 6-week old infant, were injured, along with three firefighters and two police officers. They’re all expected to survive.
“Children were screaming, ‘help!’ I did not see them. Then I heard the voice of a man, and I came out right away. When I came out right away, I saw three houses on fire,” neighbor Philippe Naim told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas. “Thank God everyone’s out, thank God, thank God.”
“It was engulfed in flames. The flames were a good 15-20 feet even above the house. Then we see it catching on to the two houses beside it. Heard a lot of screaming for help, and that’s when everyone just started showing up,” said neighbor Simcha Gold. “It was shocking, very sad to see. But the important thing is everyone’s alive.”
More than 170 firefighters and medics helped battle the blaze and tend to the victims. FDNY Chief of Operations Thomas Richardson told reporters they had to adjust their original plan of attack.
“They did make an interior attack into the main fire building, but they quickly had to evacuate that building, and we concentrated our efforts on the two exposures,” he said.
Investigators went door-to-door looking for additional security camera footeage, to hopefully get an even better look at the man they say they need to bring in for questioning.
Sources tell CBS2 police are looking to question a man from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who has been staying with friends in the area. His name has not been released.
Surveillance video from a nearby home shows a man pouring what is believed to be a flammable liquid beside a parked car, sources say. Investigators believe he was burned when the fire began and ran away.