Man, 76, dies in New York apartment building fire

Associated Press

New York – A 76-year-old man was killed in a wind-whipped fire at a New York high-rise apartment building on Monday.

Two firefighters also were injured in the fire on the 35th floor of a 36-story building in midtown Manhattan, authorities said.

Fire Department spokesman Michael Parrella said firefighters were hampered by high winds and malfunctioning elevators as they tried to get to the top of the building.

He said the injured firefighters, treated at hospitals, had non-life-threatening injuries. The fire, reported shortly after 7:30 a.m., drew over 100 firefighters before it was under control at 9 a.m. Parrella said the fire was contained to one apartment. The cause is under investigation.

Police said the victim was found unconscious and unresponsive in a bedroom. He was identified as John Doktor, the resident of the apartment.

“It was a heavy, wind-driven fire,” Assistant Chief Joe Woznica said of the two-alarm blaze that sent smoke billowing toward a blue sky. He added that the conditions made it “pretty hot and dangerous” for the 25 fire department units that responded to the scene.

The fire occurred on 56th Street in an area of Manhattan crowded with tourists celebrating the Christmas holiday. It broke out several blocks from St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Plaza, where tens of thousands of people each week pour into midtown to see one of the world’s most famous decorated trees.

Comedian Jackie Mason’s daughter, Sheba, told the New York Post that she lives on building’s sixth floor and was woken abruptly and told to rush out.

“I’m wearing my pajamas,” she said as sirens blared around her.