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MANHATTAN FIRE FATAL TO 3 IS DESCRIBED AS 'SUSPICIOUS'

Two men and a woman died Saturday in a suspicious fire that broke out in a hallway utility closet of a seven-story apartment building in Manhattan, the Fire Department said.

Three other people were injured in the blaze, two of them apparently suffering severe burns, said Lt. Frank Martinez, a spokesman for the department.

Ninety firefighters responded to the fire on Broadway, near West 104th Street, at 8:57 a.m., he said. It went to two alarms at 9:10 a.m. and was under control 26 minutes later.

Martinez called the blaze suspicious and said fire marshals were at the scene investigating how it started.

The fire apparently started in an open utility closet in the first-floor hallway, he said. The high heat and smoke passed up through the building's only stairway to the upper floors, fatally trapping two people on the fifth floor and one on the fourth floor, he said.

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