DYKER HEIGHTS, Brooklyn — Roaring flames burst from the windows of an apartment building in Dyker Heights where two people died in a fire that’s being investigated as arson, sources said.
The fast moving fire was deliberately set by someone who dumped an accelerant in the lobby of the building around 7:30 a.m. Thursday, law enforcement sources said.
"I heard the sirens, when I came out I realized that flames were shooting out of the back apartment alongside where we live,” said witness Heidi Pugni.
More than 100 firefighters and paramedics responded to the fire.
“It spread rapidly from the first floor up throughout the building. [There were] very heavy fire conditions in the hallway. Going through and to the top floor fire out the top floor window,” said James Leonard, chief of department for the Fire Department.
When the smoke cleared, firefighters found the lifeless bodies of a 58-year-old man and 56-year-old woman. Their bodies were burned beyond recognition, sources said.
Seven people were rushed to area hospitals including firefighters, Leonard said.
"My sister heard fighting and yelling coming from the back of the building. Then she noticed that the door handle was hot," said Karen Hernandez, who escaped the building clutching her cat. "My mother checked and told us there was smoke coming from the back of the building. We went down the fire escape.”
Investigators from the city Fire Marshals, NYPD Arson and Explosives Squad and federal bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms inspected the rear of the building, where a fire escape was draped with charred clothing.