Woman, 79, dead and 3 critically injured in Crown Heights fire

CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn — A 79-year-old woman is dead and three people are critically injured after a fire ripped through a Brooklyn building Friday morning.

(Citizen)

Authorities received "numerous calls" shortly before 6 a.m. about flames on the first floor of a four-story mixed occupancy building on Buffalo Avenue and Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights.

"I couldn't see nothing ... smoke, a lot of smoke," one resident told PIX11 News. "I was frightened. Very, very frightened."

The fire started on the first floor deli and spread to the apartments above, fire officials said.

Citizen app video showed heavy smoke consuming the building.

"He hollered 'fire' and that's all I needed to hear," resident Phillip Taylor said. "We were on the fourth floor ...  by the time we got to the third floor we couldn’t breathe we couldn’t see nothing. You had to feel the steps, it was like you were walking in the dark because the smoke was that thick."

Four adults were trapped by the blaze inside a second-floor apartment and had to be rescued by firefighters, according to fire officials.

One of the victims, identified as a 79-year-old woman, was found dead at the scene, police later said. Officials have not released her name.

The others were taken to hospitals in critical condition, according to officials. Police said they are a 50-year-old man and woman, and a 54-year-old woman.

Three firefighters and two civilians suffered minor injuries, FDNY Deputy Chief Anthony Devita said.

The American Red Cross said the fire forced the entire 28-unit building to be evacuated. So far, the agency has registered nearly 50 individuals -- more than 15 families -- in need of help. Anyone who was displaced by the blaze is told to call 877-RED-CROSS.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known. One smoke detector was found in the building and it was not working, according to fire press.

Residents were briefly allowed back in Friday afternoon to grab their valuables, before all the apartments were locked up.

But for most, what was most valuable, was getting out alive.

"Whatever is lost can be regained, but once your life is gone it’s gone," Taylor said.

The Eastern Parkway is closed in both directions from Utica Avenue to Rockaway Parkway, according to NYPD. Those traveling in surrounding areas should expect delays and use an alternative route if possible.

AIR11 was over the scene: