News | Morningside Heights

Fire engulfs Citibank on 111th Street, injures 7

  • Eva Kalikoff for Spectator
    LONG-TERM DAMAGE | Firefighters continue to gather around the Citibank on 111th Street and Broadway after a fire raged through the building Saturday morning.
  • Eva Kalikoff for Spectator
    Morningside Flames | Firefighters were still putting out the blaze at noon Saturday, an FDNY spokesperson told Spectator.
  • FIRE | Firetrucks surround the Citibank on 111th Street and Broadway as 200 firefighters battle a blaze that started early Saturday morning.
  • FIRE | The fire at Citibank was first reported in the basement, but had spread to the first and second floors of the building, an FDNY spokesperson said.
  • FIRE | Three firefighters and four civilians suffered minor injuries in the six-alarm fire, which broke out shortly after 5 a.m.
  • FIRE | Firetrucks line Broadway between 112th Street and 111th Street after the Citibank on 111th Street caught fire Saturday morning.

Updated 1/12, 9:10 p.m.

A six-alarm fire engulfed the Citibank on 111th Street in Morningside Heights Saturday morning, leaving three firefighters and four civilians injured.

As of Saturday evening, firefighters still surround the building and access is blocked to the west side of Broadway between 111th and 112th streets.

A Fire Department of New York spokesperson told Spectator that the three firefighters had been transported to St. Luke’s Hospital to be treated for minor injuries, while four civilians were treated on the scene for smoke inhalation.

Computers were strewn across the floor and tables overturned in the bank Saturday afternoon. On the second floor, a hole appeared to have been punched through the wall. Shattered glass covered the sidewalk, and the Citibank sign over the building was removed.

According to DNAinfo, the fire broke out around 5:20 a.m. Saturday. An FDNY spokesperson said that the fire was difficult to extinguish because it appeared to be in the walls of the building. A nearby apartment building was evacuated, he added.

The fire was initially reported in the basement, but had spread to the first and second floors of the building, the spokesperson said, but the FDNY did not yet know what caused the fire.

Other businesses on the block have varying degrees of damage. Bank Street College of Education canceled classes Saturday due to smoke. Pinkberry, two stores down from the bank, suffered no damage because of the fire, an employee told Spectator. 

Feras Samad, owner of The Heights Bar & Grill and Samad’s Gourmet next door, said they are waiting to re-enter the building and plan on reopening quickly, but “right now we don’t know the full extent of the water and smoke damage.”

Vareli manager Richard Bill said that the restaurant—one storefront away from Citibank—will be ready to open by Monday after suffering water damage.

“We got a little water coming in from all the hoses. It just started to breach the walls,” Bill said. “We’ve spent most of the day pumping the water out.”

Check back for updates.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled Vareli manager Richard Bill’s name. His last name is “Bill,” not “Brill.” A previous version of this correction misspelled “Vareli.” Spectator regrets the errors.

news@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ColumbiaSpec

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Anonymous posted on

Please God let the Heights be okay.

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CU alum posted on

What about Pancho, the Samad Deli cat? Hope he is o.k.!

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Julia W. posted on

Is there any news about Pancho? I heard he was missing.

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Anonymous posted on

I'm worried about him too. Does anybody know anything?

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Columbia alum posted on

Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell just told some of us on W. 111th Street that Samad did not have fire damage & only got some water damage this afternoon per his talk with the manager-- so he believes that Pancho is safe & sound!

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cc posted on

Poncho/Pancho is doing great! Just chatted with the store owners earlier this afternoon, and they are expecting to reopen in a few days.

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Wait posted on

I thought it's not called Vareli anymore...

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beto s posted on

the heights is burned down. closed for along time.

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Tin foil hat posted on

Two story corner building, a perfect development site, and started in the basement of a bank...

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Anonymous posted on

Agree. Tear it down and build a high rise with stores and restaurants on the first floor. We do not need any more banks.

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Robert posted on

FYI: Samad's got wiped out by a a fire once before. January 1996, plus/minus a month. At the time the Heights space was occupied by Nacho Mama's, which IIRC was where the fire started. After the repairs and renovation, the Heghts moved in upstairs while Nachoo Mama's moved a block up to where Community F&J is now.

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S posted on

http://spectatorarchive.library.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/columbia?a=d&d=cs19960116-01.2.6&srpos=&dliv=none&e=-------en-20--36174--txt-IN-Columbia-ARTICLE--

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Anonymous posted on

vareli, not valeri

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Julia W. posted on

That's good news from Daniel O'Donnell about the deli, but still not sure about Pancho. Anyone who has any info. about him, please let us know. - Will go there tomorrow.

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CU alum posted on

Neighbor contacted F. Samad Monday eve to inquire about Pancho: good news! He is staying at Possibilities for the time being.

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Anonymous posted on

According to news reports the building was completely destroyed and needs to be torn down.

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Anonymous posted on

I went too that bank (The old First National City bank) since I was a child in the 50s until I moved out West. My family banked there since the 1910s. We are all Columbia U, UTS and TC. A lot of old neighborhood people will have lost their safe deposit boxes, with photographs, degrees, jewelry, etc. I still remember the aborted bank robbery in 1960 when the bank guard shot it our with bandits. Bullet holes are still in the building across the street... That bank has been there 110 years... REAL Upper West Side neighborhood institution... Tragedy.

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