Three children who had been left home alone were in “extremely critical condition” and 10 firefighters were injured after two fires tore through an apartment building and several businesses in Brooklyn on Sunday, officials said.
All 13 patients were in stable condition on Sunday afternoon, but the three children — ages 4, 5 and 8 — were hospitalized with severe injuries. One firefighter’s condition was considered critical but he responded well to treatment and was alert on Sunday afternoon, Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said during a news conference.
The three children were injured when fire broke out in an 11th-floor apartment just after 11 a.m. in a 14-floor building in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, said the Fire Department chief of department, John Hodgens, during the news conference.
The apartment had no working smoke alarms, said Commissioner Kavanaugh.
Firefighters responded to the scene quickly, but Chief Hodgens said the apartment was locked, and they had to force open the door before they could crawl in.
Inside, he said the firefighters encountered “pretty heavy fire conditions.”
The news conference was held on Williamsburg Street East, where firefighters were still working to extinguish a blaze that ripped through nine businesses just a few hours earlier. The air still smelled of smoke.
The causes of both fires were still under investigation on Sunday evening, but Commissioner Kavanaugh said the day’s high temperatures hampered firefighters’ abilities to combat them.
The three children were already unconscious when firefighters found them in the living room and behind the front door, Chief Hodgens said.
It had taken firefighters about nine minutes to climb up to the 11th floor, break into the apartment, grab the children, begin CPR and bring them outside where they could receive more advanced emergency medical care, he said.
Officials are investigating why the children were alone in the apartment. Commissioner Kavanaugh said their father was in custody and was being questioned. His name was not released.
Less than an hour later, firefighters responded to calls reporting the fire engulfing several Williamsburg businesses.
All the affected businesses were closed, and Mr. Hodgens said firefighters were forced to use saws to cut through gates and break into them. By the time they were able to enter, there was heavy fire throughout.
More than 200 firefighters and emergency medical personnel responded to the Williamsburg fire, Mr. Hodgens said.
Charred spools of orange, white and gold ribbon and other fabric trims hung from the walls of Sew Splendid, one of the businesses affected. Next door, a roofing supplies store had burned down to its wooden beams. Other items including chairs, shelves and wooden pallets were scattered outside the row of small stores, and spectators gathered as firefighters hosed down the debris.