Firefighters struggle to bring Citibank fire under control
Neighbors woke up to the sound of shattering glass and smell of smoke as fire began to take over the bank at Broadway and 111th Street.
More than 200 firefighters responded to the fire which broke out at 5:20 a.m. Saturday. By afternoon, it had gone to six alarms.
“We thought we had the fire, but unexpectedly the entire first floor sagged. At that point in time, the structural stability of the building became problematic, and out of necessity, we had to pull all the firefighters out,” said James Esposito, FDNY Chief of Operations.
Three firefighters and four civilians suffered minor smoke related injuries. Investigators are still looking into what sparked the fire that began in the bank’s basement.
Citibank customers have expressed concern over their safe deposit boxes, which are fireproof, but can get wet.
The Heights Bar and Grill, and the popular deli Samad’s Gourmet suffered major water and smoke damage.
“We’re sad,” said Wassim Malaeb, co-owner of Samad’s. “I don’t know what’s going to happen next. We’re going to be shut down. I don’t know how long it’s going to take.”
And anyone familiar with Samad’s knows and cares about Poncho the cat who calls the deli home.
“I would guess he’s okay. He’s a smart cat and he’s an outdoor cat so he wouldn’t go run and hide in a hole. He would escape. That’s my guess,” said neighbor Barbara Moss.