In mid June, hundreds of frightened residents were evacuated from a multi-story apartment building when smoke filled their apartments from a simple stove fire that grew out of control. The fire spread so quickly that flames leaped up three floors of the large building in the town of Hempstead, N.Y.
Witnesses recalled seeing residents of the Fulton Manor apartment building with their heads out open windows, screaming for help, before firefighters came to their aid in high-rise ladder buckets. The firefighters pulled more than a dozen people out of their windows to safety. Some of the residents were becoming so overcome by smoke that they were yelling that they were going to jump from their windows.
About 30 people were treated at hospitals for smoke inhalation after they were evacuated from the seven-story building. The cause of the fire was a stove malfunction in an apartment on the second floor. The fire spread quickly to the walls of that apartment, and created a lot of smoke containing deadly carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.
The risk of death from smoke inhalation was higher for the residents on the floors above a fire, because smoke always rises. Because of this, people who are evacuating a fire should crawl or somehow get their faces as close to the floor as possible, because that is where the only breathable air is located in a smoky room. One or two breaths of smoke is enough to make a person unconscious, and unable to escape a fire.
The fire started around 6:20 p.m. and was contained around 8 p.m. Two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion. More than 300 firefighters from 30 volunteer departments were at the scene. Four Nassau County buses shuttled about 100 evacuees to a temporary shelter.
If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.