YONKERS, Westchester County - One person has died after a four-alarm fire burned through a large Yonkers apartment building Wednesday, forcing firefighters to battle both flames and weather conditions.
The fire started in an apartment on the fifth floor of 1 Hawley Terrace just after 4 a.m., and quickly spread to the upper floors and through the roof.
Video from NewsCopter 7 of the fire:
Aerial video: 4-alarm fire burning in Yonkers
Yonkers firefighters were still working the fire into Wednesday afternoon. They were trying to get into the upper floors. Smoldering debris from the upper floors of the building have now collapsed into the interior creating pockets of fire that still have to be extinguished.
Another look at the fire:
"The building is going to drain. And now we are getting companies in there to methodically go through the top floor and put out hidden pockets of fire," said Deputy Chief Thomas Fitzpatrick, Yonkers Fire Department.
By Thursday morning, the main body of the fire has been knocked down, but residents were still not able to re-enter their homes.
From the start, this fire proved to be a stubborn one to battle. Flames shooting out of upper floor windows then got up into the buildings cockloft allowing it to spread along the roof.
"My neighbor woke me up saying, 'Fire, fire!' So when I opened the door there was just smoke everywhere, so I just grabbed what I could and ran out the door," said Nick Manente, building resident.
"The fireman said originally, 'Just stay in your apartment.' Then I went out the second time and they said, 'Get out,'" said Bob Antash, building resident.
The frigid weather also created problems in battling the fire which quickly went to four alarms.
"We encountered a frozen hydrant earlier and had to bring water from about a half a mile away," Deputy Chief Fitzpatrick said.
18 fire companies were dispatched. A force of 80 firefighters were working this fire from all sides.
The eight-story setback building was also higher than the department's tallest ladders.
"It started on the fifth floor, but I don't know the apartment of origin. Unfortunately, that is where we had a fatality on the fifth floor," Deputy Chief Fitzpatrick said.
All other residents in the building got out safely and have been relocated to an armory in Yonkers, but at this point do not know what is left of their apartments.
"I'm still nervous because we are watching the fire spread," said Dianna Kreisler, building resident. "We are on the other side of the building, we are on the top floor. So we are waiting and hoping that they are going to stop it before you lose, you don't want to think about what you're going to lose," said Dianna Kreisler, a resident.
There are estimates that as many as 100 residents were evacuated, some on stretchers.
One or two firefighters went to the hospital.