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Fire Forces Bronx Residents From Their Homes

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- Tenants were forced from their beds into the bitter cold Tuesday as flames swept three multi-family homes in the Bronx, Jay Dow reports.

The fire started just after 1:30 a.m. at 1997 Arthur Avenue and quickly spread to two other buildings.

"Everybody's trying to rush and grab things, you know?" said victim Joe Cole. "When we came out the whole first floor was ablaze."

Second floor tenant Clemente Matos stood with his fellow tenants, across the street and said all but one of them made it out before firefighters arrived.

"We tried to get the door broke down. It was kind of hard to get it down," Matos said. "He was trapped inside."

Matos identified that trapped tenant as Harry Gibson, who lives on the first floor of the building where the fire started. Fire officials said the 40-year old man was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital in cardiac arrest.

"These buildings have what they call is a cockloft, which is a flat area between the roof and the top floor ceiling. And once the fire gets in there, it spreads horizontally," explained FDNY Deputy Chief James Mulrenan.

The firefighters had to work fast in dangerous, Colliers Mansion-like conditions.

"Colliers mansion is we had a tremendous amount of material in there. It's almost like a hoarding affect. And it makes it very difficult for us because we don't have the room to move around."

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