Three Barnard students were injured in a fire and explosion on the 600 block of 116th Street late Tuesday night, according to an e-mail from Barnard President Deborah Spar and Dean Avis Hinkson. The students are being treated for injuries at St. Luke’s.
New York City Alerts tweeted that it was a “2 Alarm Fire,” which means that dispatchers send out 25 units and 106 firefighters. NYPD officials could not immediately respond for comment, but the cause behind the fire remains unclear.
According to bystanders and photos on Twitter, the fire began between 600 West 116th and 606 West 116th before spreading to Ollie’s Shop and Grille on the corner of Broadway and 116th.
“At first it was between the two buildings and there was lots of black smoke,” Taylor Banning, 22, said. “Now it’s in Ollie’s and the smoke is going further up.”
Ollie’s filled with smoke and there was an explosion at around 11:20 p.m. The storefronts blew out, and the signs were dislodged from the building.
Ellie Williams, 21, a student at Barnard College and a resident of the building, was returning when she saw the explosion. She stood surrounded by classmates in pajamas despite the snow.
“I can’t get into my building now,” Williams said. “The Ollie’s sign popped off when there was an explosion and I freaked out and I kind of ran away.”
Olivia Saurette, 16, stood nearby, staring up at the building.
“I don’t even live here normally. I’m from out of town. But I’m staying in the building and I just came back from the opera and saw this happening,” she said.
The smoke from the fire reached 121st Street.
“The quad was evacuated,” Shannon Peters, an 18-year-old Barnard student, said. “The smoke was so thick, you couldn’t see so I thought there was fire there.”
About an hour later, a text alert was sent out to Barnard Students from Barnard Public Safety telling residents of the building to “find shelter for night and read email from Res Life.”
Updated: March 4 at 9:20 a.m.