1 dead in Manhattan apartment building fire; 12 with minor injuries, including 10 firefighters



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NEW YORK — One person died and 12 people including 10 firefighters suffered minor injuries in a blaze that ravaged an apartment building in northern Manhattan Monday evening, authorities said.

Speaking at the scene, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said one person died in the fire at West 136th Street and was found on the sixth floor at the top of a staircase, burned to death.

He did not know whether the person was a man or a woman.

Asked whether this trapped fire victim was trying to escape, Nigro said, "I am sure."

The blaze started on the first floor shortly before 6 p.m. and shot up through the building. When nearly 200 firefighters arrived at the scene, they faced flames at the front door, Nigro said. He said the fire had been deemed suspicious because of the speed it traveled through the building.

Egenia Hernandez, whose apartment is on the first floor, said she had evacuated her 84-year-old father minutes earlier, when she smelled smoke.

Then Hernandez went back to try to retrieve important documents, but had to flee through the window.

"I climbed out the window because there was fire and smoke coming from the door when I opened it," she said.

Her daughter, Merlyne Hernandez, 11, was out playing when fire broke out.

"I'm afraid our apartment burned down," the girl said, standing on the sidewalk and watching a ladder stretching to the top of the building from a fire engine.

By 8 p.m., the flames had been doused, but the street was closed to all but some elderly residents in adjoining buildings who were allowed to sit on their stoops.

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