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2 Units Destroyed In Staten Island Condo Fire

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Staten Island condominium fire Monday forced residents out into the freezing weather.

As CBS 2's John Slattery reported, the devastating two-alarm blaze destroyed two units, and heavily damaged a third, at the Stonegate at Grasmere condo complex, at 151 Gateway Dr. off West Fingerboard Road in the Grasmere section of Staten Island.

"I looked out my window about one minute after it started, and the flames were pretty relentless," said neighbor Michael Toto.

The fire at the 30-year-old, 300-unit complex was discovered around 1:30 p.m. Monday. Numerous residents had to be evacuated.

The fire apparently started in a unit owned by a resident named Joel Triccio, who was not at home. But neighbors said the building superintendent did not know that at first.

"Me and my partner were the first over there, and we kicked the door in to see if he was there, and we didn't get a response, and by that time the black smoke overcame us, and the Fire Department showed up after that," said superintendent Dominic Priore.

The unit next door is owned by Regina Fogel, and was also destroyed.

"I'm just happy that the everyone – the man next door, my son, myself – we're alive," she said.

The fire was so intense that the floors inside began to fall down, and firefighters had to pull back.

"We had a major collapse of both the fire building and an additional adjoining three-story building," said FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief James Leonard.

The fire forced the evacuation of other nearby units, and residents just stood by and hoped theirs would not be next.

"Right now, they're wetting down all of our roofs and the sides of everything" to protect the remaining units, said neighbor Rosalee Lombardi.

The units that were destroyed by the flames will have to be demolished. The cause of the fire was under investigation Monday afternoon.

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