Several Hurt in Manhattan High-Rise Fire

Residents talk about the harrowing ordeal on a bitter Sunday morning.


Editor's Note -- The AP reported Sunday evening that one person has died.

A furious blaze tore through a Manhattan high-rise Sunday morning, critically injuring at least two people and leaving desperate residents fleeing flaming balconies and smoke-filled hallways.

The fire erupted on the 20th floor of the 42-story apartment building at 500 43rd St. at about 11 a.m., authorities said.

One neighbor witnessed a resident pleading for help from his 20th-floor balcony.

“I was in my living room, and I heard screaming,” said Eirik Mosveen, who lives down the block.

“I came outside, and when I looked up, I saw a man on the balcony screaming. A short time later, the flames were covering the balcony. I hope he got out.”

Mickey Atwal, who was stuck on the 26th floor, went to his balcony and tweeted a picture of the smoke billowing from below.

“Too much smoke on hallways,” Atwal wrote on Twitter. “Elevators not working. Standing in balcony with wife and 2-yr old.”

The man later tweeted that him and his family were “safe and in good spirits.”

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A lifeguard at the health club near the top of the building saved a senior citizen from the inferno.

“We were up at the pool, and the alarm went off,” said the guard, Boyd Olden, 31.

He said he took the older person, who was in the shower, and led him out, along with a receptionist.

At one point, “We got trapped up in a smoke-filled stairwell. I was pretty sure we were all dead,” Olden said.

But the trio managed to escape. Once outside, Olden gave the senior citizen a jacket and pants to try and keep warm.

“He didn’t have any clothes,” the lifeguard said. “We were all freezing.”

A total of at least six people were injured, including two male victims. They were taken to separate Manhattan hospitals.