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Early Afternoon Fire on Van Buren Street Leaves 6 Homeless

Resident claims fire was caused by lit cigarette

An early afternoon fire in a four-story frame house on Van Buren Street and Tompkins Avenue has left residents angry at the possible cause — a lit cigarette.

About 30 firefighters using 6 firetrucks were called to 11 Van Buren Street at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, after a window awning on the building's first floor ignited and began to blaze out of control.

There were no injuries from the fire, which was brought under control by 12:50 p.m., according to FDNY.

But the building's tenants were shaken and upset, after the fire sent them running from their homes and they realized they would not be returning any time soon.

"The cigarette fell onto the awning from the third-floor window and started that fire," said Terrell Washington, a tenant on the second floor, who lived in the apartment with his wife and infant daughter.

Fire officials are still investigating the source of the fire and could not confirm whether the blaze in fact started with a lit cigarette.

"I know it's from a cigarette, because we had another fire in that exact same place before from them throwing it out the window, but we poured water on it and was able to put it out," said Washington. " But we are always are telling those girls to stop throwing cigarettes out of the window."

Washington and other neighbors paced backed and forth across the street from the building, complaining loudly about the damage and having no place to go for the night.

"The fire wasn't that bad, but they destroyed everything," said Washington of the firefighters' efforts to put out the fire.

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