From the street, it didn't look too bad. A lot of emergency vehicles, a little bit of smoke. But inside the apartment building at 215 W. 242nd St., the firefighters those vehicles belonged to were busy bringing a one-alarm fire under control they say was deliberately set.
In all, 11 people were injured — four critically — in the blaze that started just after 9 a.m., on Friday morning.
Firefighters were on-scene within minutes, according to fire department chief William McCormack. Flames were contained to the first floor apartment where the fire started. The smoke was a different story, however, as more than 60 first responders converged to help the injured.
Police officials blamed the blaze on a 48-year-old man in the first-floor apartment. No other details were available, and it's unclear if he will face charges.
The four people suffering the most serious injuries were taken to Jacobi Medical Center in Morris Park, while six others were taking to area hospitals, according to the department. An 11th refused medical attention at the scene.
Outside the building in the late winter cold, several residents spoke of a neighbor named Josh who risked life and limb to warn others of the blaze.
“He started going up the building instead of going down,” said Ammar Ammari, a 15-year resident of 215 W. 242nd, who got out safely. “When they took him out the building, he wasn’t breathing.”
Chris Roc, a 40-year resident of the building, doesn’t remember seeing anything like this, but was grateful for Josh’s actions in dire circumstances.
“He’s a hero,” Roc said.
As fire marshals conducted their investigation, three residents waited with bated breath as another was brought out mostly unscathed, their 5-year-old white husky Stella. She barked and tugged every which way in the crisp air, part of her coat splotchy with smoke from the fire.
“Oh my God,” said Samantha, who declined to give her last name, as she held onto Stella’s leash. “I’m so happy.”