Deadly fire in Prospect Heights

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Cleaning up: Firefighters saw through wreckage at the scene of a deadly fire in Prospect Heights on Wednesday morning.
Morning shutdown: Firefighters closed a portion of Flatbush Avenue after the deadly fire.
Can you hear me now?: A fire official peers oout of a window of the ruined Prospect Heights building.
Casing the joint: Arson investigators inspect the ground-floor hardware store where the fire appears to have started.
Tangled: A pile of wreckage sits outside.
Ruins: Fire officials check out the inside.

One man died and 18 people were injured, four of them seriously, when flames tore through an apartment building on Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights, according to a Fire Department spokesman.

Relatives of the man, who they identified as 46-year-old Bassam Awad, told reporters at the scene that Awad jumped from his fourth-floor apartment to escape the flames.

Firefighters responded to a 911 call reporting a fire at the building between Saint Marks and Sixth avenues at 3:28 am on Wednesday and found the inferno engulfing the four-story building, the FDNY spokesman said. One hundred ninety-eight firefighters battled the blaze and didn’t get it under control until around 8:30 am, he said.

Responders found Awad unresponsive in the rear of the building, and declared him dead at the scene, according to a police account.

The injured were brought to area hospitals including Brooklyn Hospital Center, New York Methodist Hospital, and Kings County Hospital Center, the Fire Department spokesman said.

The building was severely damaged, and appeared gutted by fire from top to bottom on Wednesday morning, but buildings next door were left relatively unscathed.

“We definitely got very lucky,” said Justin Eagle, a manager at Morgan’s Barbecue, an adjacent business that only suffered minor water damage. “They did an amazing job containing the fire.”

The fire was caused by one of the ground-floor Flatbush Hardware Company’s neon signs, according to the official FDNY Twitter account.

Eagle said the beginning of the fire was captured on surveillance footage, and that it started with a blast.

“The fire starts at about 3:26 and it went up pretty fast,” he said. “There was definitely some sort of small explosion and there were constant flashes and debris shooting out.”

The building contained three residential floors above the hardware store.

— with Paul Martinka

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

MaryO from Crown Heights says:
By 4:30 a.m., volunteers and staff from the Red Cross were on the scene helping households left homeless.
Jan. 21, 2015, 3:01 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
How often do neon signs go up in flames???
Jan. 21, 2015, 8:06 pm
Brooklyniter from East Flatbush says:
Sadness felt by the lost of a young man 46 to the fire today. I also am deeply sorrowful for those who have to be displaced because of the fire. I passed by the building this evening when returning home from work and witness this horrific scene.
Jan. 21, 2015, 9:24 pm

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