35 left homeless on Thanksgiving from 5-alarm apartment fire in Upper Manhattan

INWOOD, Manhattan (WABC) -- A five-alarm fire burned through an Inwood apartment building Wednesday night, leaving nearly three dozen residents homeless for the holiday.

The fire broke out in the building on Post Avenue at around 9:15 p.m.

It spread to the top floor of the apartment building and spread through the cockloft.

Nearly 200 fire and EMS members were on the scene by the time the fire was brought under control.

"It just exploded, I've never seen so much flames and it just kept igniting and igniting," resident Lizbeth Ramirez said. "And they kept trying to turn it off and it just kept kept spreading, breaking windows. Water, sadness, people crying. It's just devastating."



Firefighters returned to the scene on Thursday after the fire rekindled.

The building was under renovation from a previous multiple alarm fire in January.

Some residents had been out of their apartments for more than seven months and just got back in three weeks ago -- only to be displaced again.

FDNY officials said 35 residents were left homeless. The American Red Cross is assisting them.

"At this point, what we're trying to do is help get the residents, medications and things that they need for self sustaining life emergencies, because today being Thanksgiving, they can't get into the pharmacies or their doctor's offices," said FDNY Chief of Department Thomas Richardson.

The top two floors of the six-story building are compromised but the entire building was condemned.

"This is heartbreaking, this is the second fire in less than a year that the tenants of this building had to endure," said Assembly member Carmen De La Rosa. "There's a lot of pain, there's a lot of suffering. There's a lot of trauma here. And we're dealing in a case by case basis trying to find emergency shelter. For these families."

The residents will come back Friday to find out if they can go inside to retrieve some belongings. Some of them, perhaps most of them, will be turned away.

They say they'll come back the next day to try again, and try again every day after.

"I think we all know that this is not something that's gonna be easy," resident Gabriel Tavares said. "We're gonna have to move forward whichever way we can. We know that our belongings are no longer our belongings."

No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

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