A 76-year-old man is dead after a two-alarm fire — which was fanned by high winds — on one of the top floors of a Manhattan high-rise Monday morning, the city fire department said.
"My neighbor knew him, and she said he was an older gentleman, and she said he was a nice guy," one resident of the building said.
Officials said the blaze started around 7:32 a.m. on the 35th floor of the 36-story building at West 56th St. and Broadway.
Firefighters said they found the victim unconscious and unresponsive in the bedroom of an apartment on that 35th floor, where the flames were concentrated. He was later pronounced dead.
FDNY officials said several factors made containing the Midtown fire especially difficult: slow elevators, which caused a slight delay in response time; firefighters having to get out on the 25th floor and climb ten flights of stairs to reach the flames; and the windy conditions.
"To get into that hallway, with the heat and the fire conditions that they're facing, and then they have to use a hose line to push the fire back down that hall and into the apartment to extinguish it," said FDNY Deputy Chief Joe Woznica.
But the fire department said about 170 firefighters got the blaze under control in less than two hours. Two firefighters were taken to a local hospital with minor injuries.
One resident said the victim typically had an aide to help care for him but suspects the aide was off for the holidays.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation.