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A retired cop was left clinging to life this week after a fire erupted in his Marine Park apartment building.
Officials said that the 72-year-old was one of seven people injured in the blistering two-alarm fire that consumed three apartments inside 2240 Burnett Street near Avenue V, across the street from the Gateway National Recreation Area.
Residents interviewed at the 2640-unit condo complex said that a faulty air conditioner may have started the blaze.
“Somebody turned on the air conditioner and went to go walk his dog…that was all we heard,” explained Audrey Guido, who was in the process of moving into one of the apartments that caught fire. “I was in the apartment just an hour before and there was nothing that would let us think that something was wrong.”
“People don’t realize that their appliances get old and they have to be cleaned,” she said. “If they’re not working properly, you have to clean them.”
On Tuesday morning, a grey milky sky added to the somber scene as residents cast their eyes up towards the three burned out apartments; the scorched brick facade a lasting reminder of the tragedy that struck the evening before.
The smell of smoke and melted plastic still hung in the air thanks to a heap of burned furniture and clothing left piled underneath the corner apartments.
Witnesses said that the windows were blown out by the raging flames.
As the blaze was beaten back, firefighters were seen “throwing clothes out the windows,” witness Joan Duffy told this paper.
She said that she and her husband, residents of nearby Ryder Street, were talking a walk Monday afternoon when they saw the smoke.
They first surmised that the fire was coming from the Gateway National Recreation Area.
“We thought it was a grass fire,” she said. “When we got here, we could see the fire through the windows. The flames were from the floor to ceiling.”
FDNY officials said that the fire started in the fourth floor apartment and quickly spread to the two apartments above.
Over 100 firefighters in 25 trucks were dispatched to the scene at 4:25 p.m.
Responding units had pulled everyone out of the building and had doused the fire by 5:20 p.m., but not before five civilians living in the building suffered smoke inhalation and other minor injuries.
Two firefighters also suffered from minor injuries, officials said.
“All the firefighters were soot covered and coughing up smoke,” Duffy said.
Witnesses said that the senior, who was not named as this paper went to press, was escorted out of the building and seated on a park bench in the courtyard, where paramedics administered oxygen.
He seemed fine for a few minutes, but then suddenly collapsed, suffering from an apparent heart attack.
Paramedics performed CPR on the senior for upwards of 10 minutes before carrying him off to Beth Israel Hospital on Kings Highway, witnesses said.
The four other injured residents were taken to New York Community Hospital, where they were treated and released.
By Tuesday afternoon, the senior was still in the hospital in critical condition.
An FDNY spokesperson said fire marshals were still trying to determine what sparked the blaze, which was not believed to be suspicious.
Besides the three burned out apartments, several apartments in the first three floors suffered water damage, residents said.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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