YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A fire early Friday morning left one person dead and three others hurt at an apartment building in Yonkers.
As a result, several families are starting the New Year without a home.
Officials said dozens of people managed to escape as flames engulfed the building on Bruce Avenue. But one man lost his life in the blaze.
— Yonkers Police HQ (@YonkersPD) January 1, 2021
Manuel Vega was visiting family nearby when he noticed the flames shooting out of the building. He, his wife and nephew rushed to help.
“I had to look again, like something out of a movie,” he told CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon. “Banging on every door, every door from the first floor all the way to the fourth… People didn’t believe us, because I don’t look like a fireman. I was like, ‘fire, fuego!'”
At first, resident Sonya Turner ignored the commotion, thinking it was people enjoying New Year’s Eve. She said she eventually realized something was wrong.
“They came knocking on all the doors that there was a fire. So we came out, and that’s when we saw that the entire building was in flames,” she said.
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Officials said the fire started in a unit on the third or fourth floor. The blaze was well underway when crews arrived.
“Middle of the night fires they always have a jump on you,” said Assistant Chief Sean Moran. “They could be smoldering and building for a while before they’re brought to anyone’s attention.”
A middle-aged man died in the fire, and three people were treated for non-severe injuries.
Vega said he was saddened to hear about the death, but glad he could help in some form.
“It was just reaction. I would hope that somebody would do that for me,” he said. “I feel very bad, because I wish I could have saved that life.”
Officials said the cause of the fire is under investigation.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross and Yonkers Office of Emergency Management are helping those who have been displaced.
CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report.