Investigators Probe Upper East Side Townhouse Fire

CBS 2 - October 14, 2006

(CBS) NEW YORK Bursting through the windows and up through the roof, bright orange flames destroyed a historic six-story townhouse on the Upper East Side on Friday. The fire, which apparently started in the middle of the night, sent nearby residents to the cold streets for safety.

A couple that lives across the street said they woke up to the sound of debris falling and were shocked by the scene outside their 19th floor window. They shot home video as the fire burned up the 1920s townhouse that belongs to Reed Krakoff, the executive creative director of Coach, Inc.

"It frightened us 'cause we saw it spreading to the townhouses adjacent to it and behind it. We were concerned the whole block was gonna be on fire very shortly," Dr. Rache Simmons said.

And the inferno did in fact spread to apartments behind the townhouse. Nancy Scully's apartment suffered thousands of dollars worth of damage.

"My first reaction was I got to put the fire out," Scully said. "So I ran into the kitchen and got some water."

The heat from the fire was so intense it broke a living room window, sending glass crashing down to the ground below. It even set Scully's whole window frame ablaze.

"I could see the wood frame around the window was on fire so I was trying to put it out," she said.

It took about 140 firefighters three hours to extinguish the blaze that destroyed a home in the middle of its renovation. And as investigators work to determine the fire's cause, Scully said she's counting her blessings.

"(I'm) thankful that I'm alive," she said. "I really am, I'm so lucky."

No residents were seriously hurt in the blaze.