British man tweets family's escape from New York high rise fire that killed playwright Daniel McClung


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The Independent US

A British man and his family escaped a huge fire in a New York skyscraper that killed a man yesterday.

Gurinder Singh “Mickey” Atwal, a scientist living in Manhattan, tweeted the horrific ordeal as he tried to get his wife and their toddler son to safety.

They were trapped on the 26th floor of the 42-storey building after the blaze started at around 11am.

Mr Atwal wrote: “Too much smoke on hallways. Elevators not working. Standing in balcony with wife and two-year-old.”

Firefighters arrived shortly afterwards and told the family to stay where they were, before leading them to safety down a stairwell.

He wrote: “Looks like fire started a few floors below. Family safe and in good spirits.”

Mr Atwal is qualitative biologist at New York’s Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and holds degrees from Cambridge, Cornell and Princeton universities.

Wife Nadja Atwal, a fashion designer, called their balcony a “lifesaver”.

She tweeted: “Firemen in NY - true heroes. So grateful to them. Black smog inside the building was beyond imagination.”

One man died and another was critically injured by the huge blaze, which left several floors blackened.

Playwright Daniel McClung, 27, was pronounced dead at hospital and the other victim, a 32-year-old man believed to be his husband, was in a stable condition.

New York Fire Department spokesman Danny Glover said the fire started in an apartment on the 20th floor of the building, in 43rd Street.

It took around 40 fire engines almost two hours to bring it under control and smoke had spread to several apartments.

The cause is being investigated.