35 displaced in UES fire

March 26, 2008 8:34:05 PM PDT
A three-alarm fire broke out on the Upper East Side Wednesday night. Authorities say the fire started inside 319 East 90th Street, near 1st Avenue. It apparently began in a fifth-floor apartment under renovation and quickly spread throughout the building.

Around 35 people were evacuated. Five firefighters and one civilian suffered minor injuries.

Eyewitness News reporter Nina Pineda has more.

The fire, which started on the top floor of the building, quickly filled the hallways with smoke. It sent neighbors scrambling to warn each other.

"Between firefighters and hoses coming up and us trying to get down, it was pretty hectic," one resident said.

"I was giving a piano lesson, listening to my student, and we smelled smoke," another said. "So we came out."

Authorities say 150 firefighters responded, but the fast-moving blaze jumped across to the neighboring building at 317 East 90th Street.

About 35 people are without a home after the fire. The American Red Cross is helping some of them stay elsewhere. But others couldn't bear the thought of leaving their home.

"We've been here for 35 years," resident Roger Headley said. "I'm on the top floor, and they say that's the worst. There's a big, gaping hole in the roof, and they said the fire probably started in some apartment and they were chasing it across the ceiling."