At least five firefighters were injured while battling a five-alarm blaze on Wednesday after flames broke out in a Greenwich Village apartment building, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
The fire, which started at 60 E. Ninth St. around 5:45 p.m., quickly spread, engulfing the roof of the six-story building and the top floor, according to the FDNY. The cause of the fire was not immediately clear.
The five firefighters suffered nonlife-threatening injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to sprains. More than 200 firefighters responded to the fire.
Nigro said smoke alarms on the top floor were activated and “people who heard them left the building.”
There was “heavy fire and a tremendous amount of smoke from this fire ... [firefighters] really had their work cut out for them with the amount of fire and smoke that they were faced with,” he added.
There are seven apartments per floor, Nigro said, and units below the top floor “have significant damage also from water, etc.” but the building remains structurally sound. He said the fire started on the first floor traveled up to the cockloft, a small attic space, on the top of the building through a shaft that “causes it to travel quickly undetected.”
Nigro said officials are looking at “the rear of the first floor. There is a cooking area for a deli.”
Dozens of shocked onlookers, including Robert Hajek, 54, gathered behind police lines as smoke continued to billow out of the brick apartment building. Hajek had just finished his spin class and returned home to find the smoky scene.
“I was horrified,” Hajek said.
By Wednesday evening, small pockets of smoke were still visible from some windows. Commuters could smell the smoke from the subway as it sped past the station.
The fire disrupted rush-hour subway service, with W and R trains bypassing the 8th Street-NYU stop in both directions, according to the MTA. The No. 6 train also briefly skipped Astor Place.