LOWER EAST SIDE (WPIX)—Seven residents of a Lower East Side building were injured after a two-alarm fire broke out in the store beneath their apartments early Tuesday morning.
The blaze broke out just before 4 a.m. inside the East Village Farm and Grocery, located at 69 Second Avenue and East 4th Street.
Fire officials described the fire as "very smoky" and residents say the rising smoke woke them up before their fire alarms sounded.
"The smoke woke me up," one resident told PIX 11 News. "It was so quick I didn't even get my phone or ID or anything."
"The whole building is filled with smoke," another resident told PIX 11 News. "We had to come downstairs [to escape]. I've never been in a fire before. You cannot see anything [we were] totally blind all the way down so that was kinda freaky."
Seven people suffered minor injuries, most due to smoke inhalation. All injuries were described as non-life-threatening.
While some residents climbed down the fire escape with the assistance of firefighters, others evacuated their apartment so quickly, they did not have time to put on shoes.
Matt King, the owner of an across-the-street hangout spot Stillwater Bar and Grill, offered displaced residents shelter from the winter weather.
As well, the Red Cross arrived to assist resident and give them blankets and shoes.
The Fire Department allowed residents to return to their apartments to retrieve their belongings shortly before 7 a.m., but say the fire has severely damaged the building.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.