Wed, February 25, 2009
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Two dead, 27 injured in NYC Chinatown blaze

2009-02-25 08:39:41 GMT2009-02-25 16:39:41 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Firefighters transit fire equipments near the scene of a fire at the Chinatown in Manhattan, New York, the United States, Feb. 24, 2009. A huge fire broke out at a Chinatown apartment building in New York's Manhattan early Tuesday morning, killing two people and injuring at least 27, fire officials said. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)

Firefighters try to put out a fire at the Chinatown in Manhattan, New York, the United States, Feb. 24, 2009. A huge fire broke out at a Chinatown apartment building in New York's Manhattan early Tuesday morning, killing two people and injuring at least 27, fire officials said. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)

Policemen blank off the scene of a fire at the Chinatown in Manhattan, New York, the United States, Feb. 24, 2009. A huge fire broke out at a Chinatown apartment building in New York's Manhattan early Tuesday morning, killing two people and injuring at least 27, fire officials said.(Xinhua/Shen Hong)

Firefighters try to put out a fire at the Chinatown in Manhattan, New York, the United States, Feb. 24, 2009. A huge fire broke out at a Chinatown apartment building in New York's Manhattan early Tuesday morning, killing two people and injuring at least 27, fire officials said. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)

Evacuated residents rest in a community center after a fire broke out at the Chinatown in Manhattan, New York, the United States, Feb. 24, 2009. A huge fire broke out at a Chinatown apartment building in New York's Manhattan early Tuesday morning, killing two people and injuring at least 27, fire officials said. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)

NEW YORK, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- A huge fire broke out at a Chinatown apartment building in New York's Manhattan early Tuesday morning, killing two people and injuring at least 27, fire officials said.

Three of the seriously injured had jumped out of their windows to flee the inferno, The New York Post quoted officials as saying.

The two dead were reportedly identified as Tony Wong, 32, and his girlfriend, Anna Luu, 33.

Three others were in critical condition.

Officials are investigating the four-alarm blaze that broke out at 4:45 a.m. local time (0945 GMT), fire department operations chief Patrick McNally was cited as saying.

According to McNally, the fire started on the second floor of the six-story building and spread upward, causing a section of the roof to collapse.

He said strong winds and the bitter cold made battling the blaze "very difficult."

Hundreds of people were displaced by the blaze.

"I fled my apartment with my two sons immediately upon feeling and hearing about the fire," a 4th-floor resident of the adjacent building told Xinhua.

She was speaking to reporters in front of the Madison Street Community Service Center where some 60 affected families had been temporarily accommodated.

"People were fleeing in all directions, screaming loudly, from the building which was shrouded in thick smoke," she said.

It took 180 firefighters to bring the fierce blaze under control, officials said.

According to local TV channel NY1, investigators said a faulty extension cord in one of the bedrooms sparked the fire.

Earlier in the day, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said an inspection by the Department of Buildings had found "defective and exposed" electrical wiring and fixtures in the building.

According to the Department of Buildings, the tenement building, located at 22 James Street, was cited on Jan. 26 for "defective exposed electrical wiring", a violation that was eventually resolved two days later.

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