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Upper West Side Fire: 24 Injured, 6 Seriously in Blaze Cause by 'Careless Use' of Candle

The Patch - December 24, 2016

by Brendan Krisel (Patch National Staff)

At least 24 people were hurt, 6 seriously, when a fire broke out on the third floor of a high rise on West 59th Street near 10th Avenue.

UPPER WEST SIDE, NY — At least 24 people were injured — 6 suffering serious injuries — in a four-alarm fire at an Upper West Side high rise, an FDNY spokesman told Patch. Firefighters are still on the scene battling the fire that erupted around 5 p.m. on the third floor of a 33-story building at 515 West 59th Street between 10th and West End avenues, the spokesman said.

As of 7:15 the fire was considered "knocked down" fire officials said.

Of the 24 injured 20 are civilians and four are firefighters, the FDNY spokesman said. All six of the seriously injured people are civilians, fire officials said.

The fire is believed to have started in an apartment unit on the building's third floor, an FDNY spokesman told Patch. Fire marshals ruled Friday that the cause of the fire was accidental and a result of the careless use of an open flame or candle. In the apartment unit where the fire broke out the smoke alarm was not operational, fire marshals said.

As the fire raged, flames spread vertically to the fourth floor of the building in what fire officials described as an autoexposure. An autoexposure means the flames have spread to the floor above on the exterior of the building. It is unknown if the fourth floor interior is on fire.

Firefighters are currently searching the 33-story high rise for residents who may still be inside of their apartments.

A resident of nearby building posted a video showing flames streaming out of two windows on the building's third floor. The video also shows the massive FDNY response, with firetrucks lining the Upper West Side block.

New York City Emergency Management tweeted that people near West 59th Street and 10th Avenue should expect smoke and traffic delays in the area. Those living nearby are advised to close their windows in order to avoid the smoke.