New York City Fire Kills 3, Injures 11

June 17, 2008

A suspicious fire tore through a three-story New York building Sunday, killing three people and sending victims whose clothes and hair were ablaze leaping from windows, authorities said.

The fire was reported Sunday morning in a Queens building that has a delicatessen on the ground floor and apartments on the second and third floors, firefighters said.

At least 11 people, including six firefighters, were injured. Some scampered into the deli, where the owner doused them with jugs of water from his shelves.

Deli owner Mohammad Almateri said he told the burning people to go into the street so he could soak them with water.

“I put the water from the top to the bottom,” he said, pointing to seven empty 1-gallon jugs of water on the sidewalk outside the brick building. “We’re feeling so bad to see somebody burn. So we did the best we could.”

Witnesses said the neighborhood filled with black smoke from the fire. They said one woman who jumped from a window to escape the flames landed on the deli’s awning but two others landed in the street.

Firefighters said they didn’t know the cause of the blaze, which was deemed suspicious. Fire marshals were investigating.

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