The fire started in the Hamilton Avenue building just before 6:45 a.m. Thursday.
The two-story building houses shops and offices, although there is a second-floor apartment for the property manager.
The victim was identified as Judith Musameci, 60.
“The City of New Rochelle and the Police and Fire Department extend their condolences to Ms. Musameci’s family and friends,” officials said in a statement.
Several years ago, developers hatched an $18 million plan to add four floors of apartments above the art deco base.
“It smelled so bad, and you didn’t see any fire, but we could smell the smoke and it was heavy like now,” said neighborhood resident Arthur Beckett. “The next thing I knew was what we see.”
Four tower ladders continued to fight fire as the battle stretched into the afternoon. The fire had entered the cockloft and the roof was compromised, firefighters say
“It’s hard to fight because you can’t put people in the roof to open it, once it gets to a certain point it’s not practical, so to get to the actual flame. You could have the fire here and a whole waterfall right here and it won’t do anything if you don’t start the fire,” said Chief Andrew Sandor, of the New Rochelle Fire Department.
Surrounding communities have joined in the firefighting efforts. The building has existed since 1929 and is located next to the town hall.
The fire was brought under control on Thursday evening, but firefighters remained on site to watch for hot spots.
North Avenue is closed in downtown New Rochelle.
Firefighters said four firefighters were injured. Three of them were taken to hospital and one was treated and released on the spot.
They say one of the firefighters suffered a cut and three were treated for smoke inhalation.
The investigation is looking for the causes of the fire.
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