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Brooklyn Fire Destroys 2 Buildings, Displaces Residents

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Two buildings were destroyed and another damaged in a fire in Brooklyn.

The blaze started around 10:30 p.m. Sunday at 49 Diamond Street in Greenpoint and moved quickly, spreading to two adjacent buildings.

"It was so ferocious, it was just whipping," neighbor Sylvia Sleyski said. "Embers are flying in the air, like 30, 40 feet above the house. It was insane."

Resident Christopher Welgenski said all his material possessions are gone after the fire tore through his home, leaving a gaping hole in its place.

"I lose everything," he told CBS2's Diane Macedo. "My documents, passport, Green card, drivers license and everything. I have only this, my clothes and phone."

Neighbor Michelle Colic and her mother said residents of the burning buildings were thrust into the freezing cold, some without shoes on.

"It was a family from the larger building with a child. They brought them in because it was so cold," she said. "They're all just piling into the building. My mother was handing out tea, we were giving them clothes."

It took dozens of firefighters to finally put the fire out early Monday morning, a task made even more challenging by frigid temperatures.

"The temperatures were so frigid and you can see everything iced over," Sleyski told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck. "It was freezing to even stand outside and these brave men were just in there doing their job and I give them so much respect and credit."

And with temperature's still below freezing, the problem now is also all the ice left behind.

"It's a major problem," said FDNY Assistant Chief William Seelig. "Just the hazards of the members walking in and out, stretching hose lines and we had a car run over  and break a hose line so it just compounds the difficulty of fighting fire."

The Building Department is expected to demolish two of the three affected buildings.

The fire department said preliminary findings indicate this was a non-suspicious electrical fire, possibly from a power strip, but the investigation is ongoing.

No major injuries were reported. Two of the 10 residents are still not officially accounted for, but they are believed to  be at work.

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