Apartment Fire Near Van Leeuwen Injures Five

Two apartment buildings caught fire Monday afternoon, causing five first responders to sustain minor injuries.

An apartment building near Van Leeuwen on 7th St in the East Village caught on fire. (Staff Photo by Matthew Fischetti)

A fire engulfed two apartment buildings near Second Avenue late this afternoon and injured five first responders, said Deputy Assistant Fire Chief Michael Ajello.

At approximately 3:50 p.m., over a hundred FDNY and EMT personnel responded in approximately four minutes to a 911 call about a fire that broke out on 48 E. 7th St., Ajello said. 

“It appears that the fire extended up an interior shaft to all floors and into the space between the top floor and the building,” Ajello said.

The cause of the fires is still being investigated by fire marshals at the scene, he added. The apartments affected by the fire sit on top of two restaurants: Cafe Mocha and Via Della Pace. 

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Five first responders suffered minor injuries according to Ajello. An FDNY personnel on the scene stated that while he hadn’t heard that any pets were injured, he hadn’t heard anything about any being rescued either. 

“My apartment is completely ruined, you see all the windows are broken and everything inside is gone,” said a second-floor resident who did not identify herself. “I didn’t even take my charge cards or bank cards — nothing. I have nothing except the keys.” 

Andrew Seo, another witness, said he saw smoke originally coming from the fourth floor of the apartments above Via Della Pace.

Seo watched authorities’ attempts to extinguish the fire. 

“Then [the FDNY] started punching out all the windows of this corner building and the second building and then most of the smoke was coming out of the second floor of the corner building,” Seo said. “The smoke just lasted forever.”

Camilla Caso, one of the residents affected by the fire, said that she received a text from a friend telling her that she saw Caso’s building on fire on the news. Not believing it at first, Caso confirmed with her superintendent that the fire was real and proceeded to rush from work to examine the damage.

“It seems a little bit unreal. I’m great friends with the owner of VDP right there — and his whole restaurant is destroyed. He’s around here, he’s completely shattered,” Caso said. “We’ve seen fires, we’ve seen movies about fires, but we rarely encounter what fires are like.”

At the time of publication, there have been no reports from NYU Public Safety. This is a developing story and will be updated as WSN learns more. 

Email Matthew Fischetti at [email protected]

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