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Resident killed in fire at Trump Tower, officials say

New York City Fire Department Commisioner Dan Nigro addressed questions after the fire at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Saturday. Witnesses inside the tower at the time called it a "frightening" sight. Investigators will work to determine the cause of the blaze, officials said.  (Credit: Newsday / Matthew Chayes)

A fatal four-alarm fire raged inside Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan on Saturday, killing a 67-year-old man and injuring four firefighters, authorities said.

The blaze began inside an apartment about 5:35 p.m. on the 50th floor of the building on Fifth Avenue, fire officials said.

Plumes of thick, gray smoke billowed from the apartment’s shattered windows and into the sky as onlookers gawked at the flames crackling into the air. Debris from the apartment shot out from the window and crashed onto the pavement below as firefighters raced up the stairs to battle the blaze.

“The apartment was virtually entirely on fire. They pushed in heroically,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said at a news conference outside the luxury structure.

Once inside, firefighters began knocking down the flames and found the seriously injured occupant, Todd Brassner, who was unconscious and unresponsive, authorities said.

Brassner was transported to Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in critical condition. He died a short time later at the hospital, officials said.

As many as 200 firefighters and EMS workers arrived at the scene after receiving an automatic alarm, Nigro said.

It took firefighters about five minutes to climb the stairs to the apartment on fire, Nigro said. And once they arrived, firefighters had to tap into a standpipe, a water supply source in high-rise buildings that serves the same purpose as a fire hydrant.

President Donald Trump tweeted shortly after the fire was initially reported as under control, “Fire at Trump Tower is out. Very confined (well built building). Firemen (and women) did a great job. THANK YOU!”

The Trump family occupies the top three floors of the building and the Trump Organization is headquartered there.

Firefighters went up with the Secret Service to check the president’s residence. There were no members of the first family home at the time and there was no damage to Trump’s apartment, Nigro said.

President Trump was in Washington, D.C., at the time of the fire.

“It’s a well-built building,” Nigro said. “The upper floors, which are residence floors, are not sprinklered but the building sure stood up quite well.”

Four firefighters suffered injuries that were not considered life-threatening, including two who suffered burns, Nigro said.

“It was extremely hot in the apartment. Units pushing in are in great danger, but they do nonetheless,” Nigro said.

The fire was put out about an hour after firefighters arrived, Nigro said.

Jan Lloyd, 59, and her son, Will Hammond, 18, were visiting from London and sightseeing at Trump Tower when the fire started.

“It just started when we were in there,” Jan Lloyd said. “All of a sudden we looked up and the smoke was just billowing out of the windows. The windows were cracking.”

“Ten or 11 of the panels started cracking,” her son said.

One of Trump’s sons, Eric Trump, an executive with the Trump Organization, also tweeted: “Thank you to the amazing men and women of the NYFD who extinguished a fire in a residential apartment at @TrumpTower. The @FDNY and @NYPD are truly some of the most incredible people anywhere!”

Fire officials do not yet know what sparked the blaze.

The 664-foot Trump Tower has 58 stories, though the top floor is numbered 68, according to The Associated Press.

President Trump has long seen the iconic tower as the crown jewel of his real estate empire. As the headquarters of the Trump Organization, it served as the backdrop for his NBC reality show “The Apprentice.”

Trump also announced his candidacy for president from the tower in June 2015.

Since then, the building has served as a lightning rod for protesters, with surrounding streets either barricaded or closed off for security reasons.

NYPD and Secret Service members are now a regular fixture at Trump Tower, keeping protesters at bay.

The most expensive unit for sale in the building is a 2,509-square-foot three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom going for $18 million, according to the Trump Organization website. The next most expensive apartment is a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom that sells for $11.5 million.

Firefighters were also called to Trump Tower in January for a fire sparked inside the building’s heating and air conditioning system, officials said at the time. Two civilians and a firefighter were treated for injuries that were not considered life-threatening, officials said.

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