Image: Firefighters at an apartment building fire
Stan Honda  /  AFP - Getty Images
Firefighters work at an apartment building fire Monday in the Chinatown area of New York.
updated 2/24/2009 6:24:12 PM ET 2009-02-24T23:24:12

An extension cord sparked a blaze that tore through an apartment building in New York City’s Chinatown, and the death toll has risen to two, fire officials say. At least 27 other people were hurt.

A 33-year-old woman died at a hospital Tuesday afternoon after being pulled from the burning building’s second floor, officials from the fire department say. A 32-year-old man who was in the same apartment was pronounced dead earlier Tuesday.

Among the injured were eight firefighters and three people who jumped from windows on the fifth and sixth floors.

The city Department of Buildings issued the owner a violation last month, saying the building had unsafe electrical wiring. The department said the owner hadn’t notified the agency about whether the violation had been corrected.

At least 100 people were evacuated from the building and others nearby, Fire Department Chief of Operations Patrick McNally said.

“People were yelling and screaming from the fire escape. They were crying for help,” Mary Liu, 29, told the New York Daily News. “One lady jumped out of the building. It was chaos.”

The fire, which started on the second floor, was difficult to control because the building — like so many in the historic lower Manhattan neighborhood — was so old, McNally said.

At times, fire could be seen shooting out of the windows and smoke was billowing near the roof. By midmorning, fire officials said the blaze was under control.

'I couldn't see anything'
Jacquelyn Gallo told the Daily News she was asleep when she heard the alarm. She said she tried to open her windows but they were locked, so she ran into the hallway.

“The smoke was thick. I couldn’t see anything. I heard people screaming and crying. I felt the heat of the fire and I started to panic. I thought I was going to die,” she said.

Gallo said she went back into her apartment, forced open a window and climbed onto the fire escape. She said about 15 people were on the roof.

“Everyone was helping everyone,” she said. “We climbed on the roof and jumped on the next building.”

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: NYC blaze

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