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August 20, 2019

Electrical fire in Manhattan seriously injures maintenance worker, forces building evacuation

April 20, 2019
New York – APRIL 19, 2019 – FDNY Firefighters work on a two alarm electrical fire at 645 Madison Avenue on a building under construction. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News)

A maintenance man suffered serious burns to his hands and face Friday when a fire broke out inside an electrical panel at a building on the East Side of Manhattan.

The blaze erupted on the fourth floor of a 22-story commercial building at 645 Madison Ave. near E. 60th St. shortly before 1 p.m.

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Firefighters evacuated the first five stories of the building. Medics rushed the 51-year-old maintenance man to New York-Cornell Hospital in serious condition, but said his injuries were not life-threatening.

Water flooded from the front door of the building and shattered glass spread down the block.

Shiv Persaud, 61, was working with a team of electricians on the 9th floor when the fire broke out. The crew went to get on the elevator for lunch, and when the doors opened, smoke poured out.

“Right away we were thinking about calling 911 but then the alarms went off,” Persaud said.

He heard the building’s fire safety director make an announcement for everyone to exit via a stairway.

“There was a lot of smoke in the stairway,” Persaud said. “As we came lower the intensity of the smoke, we couldn’t see. There was also a lot of water.”

Thomas Wilkinson, 44, who works at Phoenix Realty Group on the 5th floor, heard drilling and then a bang. “It was a distinct noise that’s different from the other noises we’ve been hearing,” he said. “The lights flickered momentarily and we joked that the alarm was going to go off and then five minutes the alarm did go off.”

Black smoke poured into the hallway. “It got real bad real quick.” Wilkinson said.

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