The flames broke out in a third-floor apartment of the 22-story building on 7th Avenue between 27th and 28th streets in Midtown just after 4:30 a.m.
Responders found one person inside the apartment who was pronounced dead at the scene. She was identified as 82-year-old Gloria Hillman, who building superintendent Ramon Vargas says lived in the apartment with her 23-year-old grandson. He made it out OK.
"I have never had a problem here before, 35 years I've been working here," he said. "So an incident, you don't know."
No other injuries were immediately reported, although firefighters were checking other apartments.
A fire truck responding to the scene collided with another vehicle at 7th Avenue and West 31st Street. Two firefighters were rushed to Bellevue Hospital with what are said to be minor injuries.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. The building was not completely evacuated, but some residents were being kept out of their apartments.