Firefighters struggle to bring Citibank fire under control

Morningside Heights, MANHATTAN (PIX11) – More than 17 hours after a Citibank in Morningside Heights went up in flames, firefighters are still working to bring it 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.

2 comments

  • Keith Drankiewicz

    Damage to safe deposit boxes are not covered by the FDIC or financial institution. Safe Deposit Box Insurance Coverage is the only company in the country offering box holders an option to insure their valuables against most natural disasters or man-made events. Previous uninsured items like cash or gold can now be insured. The patented product is 30% less than a homeowner's rider with no content description, appraisal, or deductible required. $3,000 is included for memories such as photographs or important papers.

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