Fatal NYC fire probed as possible arson

/ Source: The Associated Press

A fire that tore through a Brooklyn building that housed Guatemalan immigrants, killing at least five people, is being investigated as a possible case of arson.

New York City Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said Saturday's early morning blaze started behind the front door of the building. He said it's "not where a fire would normally start."

The 2:30 a.m. fire engulfed the building, trapping residents and causing part of the roof to collapse.

Four people in the building were injured, including an infant and a child who were tossed out the window by a woman frantically trying to save them.

One of the children, an infant boy, was in critical condition with a fractured skull suffered when bystanders below failed to catch him, according to officials and witnesses. The other child landed on an awning and was also injured. An adult was also hospitalized.

Firefighters hurt
Thirteen firefighters were injured, none of them believed seriously, in the blaze in the Bensonhurst neighborhood. The flames engulfed the three-story building on a busy commercial strip, consuming a ground-floor Japanese restaurant and two apartments on the upper floors.

As the fire raged, a woman held a baby boy out a third-floor window. Bars covered the lower half of the window, keeping the woman from climbing out, Gabriel said.

"She was screaming, 'Help me, help me,' " Gabriel said. Moments later, she threw the infant out the window to Gabriel and two other men.

In the darkness, the child fell to the ground, authorities said. She then tossed another child out the window. He landed on the awning below.

The area is home to a diverse population of Russians, Hispanics and Chinese.