Fire at Spuyten Duyvil co-op sends elderly couple to hospital
By Aimee Kuvadia and Sarina Trangle
A blaze ripped through a Spuyten Duyvil co-op Friday morning, sending an elderly couple to the Jacobi Medical Center with serious injuries and charring the apartment that’s been their home for close to 50 years.
Eighty firefighters from Engine 52 and Ladder 52 responded to 735 Kappock St. at 7:43 a.m.
Fire officials said the blaze originated in the couple’s living room and was under control by 8:12 a.m.
Firefighters discovered the man collapsed on the living room floor from smoke inhalation, according to Fire Marshal Robert Cox. He was pulled out of the apartment and given an oxygen mask, neighbors said.
Firemen then escorted his wife, who Mr. Cox said was asleep in the bedroom when the flames erupted, out of the apartment through her front door and into an ambulance.
“They were both overcome on the floor. [A firefighter] came in and found them and pulled them out,” Mr. Cox said.
As of Friday at 1 p.m., the FDNY did not know the medical condition of the couple. Both suffered “serious injuries,” according to an FDNY spokesman.
Enrique Acosta, the building’s superintendent for 14 years, said the husband, who was in his 80s, was injured after trying to extinguish the flames.
“He could not move. It was in his face. She was OK,” Mr. Acosta said of the wife, who he said was in her 70s.
The pair was one of the first families to move into the building five decades ago, neighbors said.
Mr. Cox said the fire appeared to be an accident, but said officials were still investigating what sparked the flames.
An insurance investigator inspecting the apartment, who refused to disclose his name, said he believed the fire was “electrical in nature” and had something to do with the wires connected to a portable air conditioning unit. After the fire, the unit could be seen, turned upside down with melted electrical cords, toward the entrance of the living room.
The blaze destroyed the home.
Three picture windows overlooking the Hudson River were ripped out and jagged glass lined charred window frames. Black soot covered dozens of bowling trophies, cups, candleholders and collectibles sitting on glass shelves behind a bar in the living room.
Most of the kitchen was marred by black burn marks from the fire, as was the dining room, which connects to the living room.
“I’m concerned because the man is frail. I saw him just yesterday,” said Ellen Helinka, who lives five floors below the couple. “If you look at it, it’s complete devastation.”