The fire broke out on the fourth floor of the NYCHA-run Riis Houses on Avenue D at around 7:15 a.m. on Thursday.
Citizen App video captured flames shooting out of the windows of the building.
Residents said there was a large explosion before the fire and smoke.
A 32-year-old man was discovered dead in the apartment by firefighters. Fire officials say he was trapped in a rear room.
A 46-year-old woman was taken to the Cornell burn unit at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in critical condition.
A 13-year-old boy and an 18-year-old woman were treated for smoke inhalation and burns after they climbed down exterior poles of the building to safety.
Video showed them shimmying down a pole and scaling the side of the building to save their own lives as neighbors watched in horror.
WATCH: Dramatic video of teens escaping apartment fire on Avenue D in East Village. NYC fire officials say a 13y/o boy and 18y/o female shimmy down a construction conduit down the side of a building@ABC7NY pic.twitter.com/FcG9iPxGtq— Chantee Lans (@ChanteeLans) December 16, 2021
"They were about to jump out the window but everyone kept telling them to hold on, so when they held on, they got onto the side of the pole and they started sliding down...and those kids, they made it down," neighbor Tashaka Owens said.
They are said to be stable. Four others suffered minor injuries.
Multiple electric bicycles were found in the fire apartment, and fire marshals are looking into the possibility that they sparked the fire.
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