NEW YORK (AFP, NYTIMES)- An elderly man died late Saturday (April 7) after a blaze erupted on the 50th floor of Trump Tower in New York which also injured four firefighters, officials said.
The New York Police Department said the 67-year-old man was found “unconscious and unresponsive” when officers arrived at the scene of the fire.
The man was pronounced dead after being taken to Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital, according to police, which said the medical examiner’s office would determine the cause of death as part of an ongoing investigation.
“This was a very difficult fire. As you can imagine, the apartment is quite large, we are 50 stories up. The rest of the building had a considerable amount of smoke,” the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) said.
It said the four firefighters had “non-life threatening” injuries and that the blaze had been brought “under control”.
Smoke began rising from the skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan around 6.00 pm.
Streets surrounding the building owned by US President Donald Trump that serves as the headquarters for The Trump Organisation and houses the president’s penthouse were closed off as tourists snapped pictures on their phones.
Trump, who was in Washington at the time, said in a Twitter post that the fire had been extinguished, attributing its confinement to the tower's construction.
Officials restricted passers-by from the area directly in front of the tower, keeping them out of the street and on the sidewalk on the opposite side of Fifth Avenue.
A 76-year-old resident who was still in the tower said the episode reminded her of the 9/11 attacks.
"When I saw the television, I thought we were finished," said the woman, Lalitha Masson, who lives on the 36th floor with her husband, Narinder, who is 79 and has Parkinson's disease.
"I started praying," Masson continued. "That this was our end. I called my oldest son and said goodbye to him because the way it looked everything was falling out of the window, and it reminded me of 9/11. I witnessed that, and this looked like that the way the fire was raging from the windows. It was a very, very terrifying experience." She said that she did not get any announcement about leaving and that when she called the front desk no one answered.
Dennis Shields, a resident who said he lived on the 42nd floor, described the scene.
"You could smell the smoke, and you could hear things falling like through the vents," he said. "It just smelled like sulphur."https://twitter.com/michael_lukiman/status/982744979805220864
He said there were no orders to evacuate but he received a text message from Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Shields, who said he grew up with Cohen, continued: "He said, 'Are you in the building?' I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'You better get out ASAP.' That's how I knew to get out, otherwise I'd still be in there."