It had occurred around two p.m. as firefighters had taken almost an hour to battle the intense blaze, which quickly spread to the entire fifth floor.
“The dryer in [De Niro's unit] caused the fire,” Battalion Chief Mike Meyers tells The Post.
According to Meyers, the whole floor where the Oscar-winning actor and family lived had suffered severe damage.
“I had a real hard time getting out of the building. The smoke was so dark and heavy, it was hard to breathe,” one of De Niro’s 6th floor neighbors said.
“Right above my head these 12 foot tall flames exploded out of the fifth floor window,” an eyewitness, who was driving by in his car at the time, told the paper.