Fire displaces residents at Brookhaven condo complex

- Firefighters battled a blaze at a Brookhaven condo complex Tuesday night.

“I heard a loud knocking on my door and was told to get out of the building there was a fire. I didn’t hesitate. I just left,” said resident Mike Martorell.

SkyFOX circled the building at Hilltop Condominiums on Hilltop Drive in Brookhaven as flames were raging from the roof. Residents scrambled to evacuate.  

“I went outside, looked and saw the glow at the top of the building. Within I guess maybe five or 10 minutes flames were shooting up, trucks were arriving and hoses were being pulled out,” said Martorell. 

Firefighters got the call just before six Tuesday evening. Ladders extended high into the air as they sprayed water until the fire was under control an hour and a half later. Crews inside eventually had to pull out due a partial collapse of the building.  Residents say they’ve lost everything.      

“I’m out of there. I don’t have anything but I’m still here,” said Martorell.

James Gavaghan lives down the road but owns a unit in Building C where the fire happened.

He’s concerned about his tenant.

“She’s 73 years old and the police officers say they got her out. She’s walking around here somewhere. I don’t know if she has anywhere much else to go.” His unit is on the bottom where he believes it sustained mostly water damage but is a total loss. He’s relieved he has insurance.

“I’m just happy nobody got hurt. The building can be replaced,” said Gavaghan. 

All 24 residents survived, and only some had minor injuries. Many of them have lived here for decades.

A day after losing everything these families are starting their life from scratch. Happy for an undamaged pair of boots - or picture frames that survived the flames. 

Generosity was on full display at Brookhaven Borough Hall. Hundreds of coats and blankets were lining the auditorium. 

"Before the fire was even under control we had folks from the community showing up with donations to help out their fellow citizens,” said Drew Alexander from the Red Cross, "That sense of Christmas spirit that people are still in that 'I have to give to my neighbor.'"

The Red Cross is assisting residents who are displaced. No word yet on where the fire started in the building or how.

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