At least one man was killed and another injured in a high-rise fire Sunday in midtown Manhattan, one of three life-threatening blazes in the area, FDNY officials said.
Daniel McClung, 27, a resident of the building, was pronounced dead at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, the NYPD said.
He and another man were found by firefighters in a 31st-floor stairwell, FDNY Assistant Chief John Sudnik said. The other victim, 32, who was not identified Sunday night, was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where he was listed in stable condition, officials said.
"Many people self-evacuated" from The Strand, 500 W. 43rd St., where a fire broke out about 11 a.m. in a 20th-floor apartment, Sudnik said.
"It was scary. We thought we were going to die," said John Lupino, 40, who with his wife and two boys fled barefoot from their apartment on the 40th floor. He said the family forged through dense, choking smoke on the stairwell before the air cleared near the 17th floor.
The FDNY typically advises people to remain in their apartments inside fireproof high-rises when fires erupt outside their own dwellings, Sudnik said. In this fire, though, "it appears the victims . . . may have been originally in their apartments, safe, and exited their apartments and became victims," Sudnik said.
"The stairwells could have been more dangerous," agreed Lupino, "but there was an overwhelming feeling to flee."
Lupino said he planned to stay with a friend nearby. He and an unknown number of families were barred from returning to their apartments in the condo tower.
More than 150 firefighters battled the blaze for an hour and 40 minutes before it was extinguished. The cause remains under investigation.
Another blaze at Toloache, a restaurant at 251 W. 50th St., drew 40 to 50 firefighters from four ladder companies about 10 a.m., blocking traffic for at least an hour. There were no injuries, said Deputy Chief Tom McKavanagh. The restaurant fire is believed to have begun as a result of "creosote buildup within the duct work" leading from a wood-burning oven, McKavanagh said.
The FDNY also noted Sunday that a third fire, at 346 E. 21st street, had been brought under control.