Centennial Celebration
Blaze Rips Through Vacant Bronx House Leaving Two Injured

NY Daily News - May 11, 2017

by ADAM SHRIER JOHN ANNESE

Two people were killed in a fire that tore through a vacant Bronx house late Wednesday night — less than two months after that same house caught ablaze amid reports of squatters sneaking in and out, officials said.

The fire started at about 11:30 p.m. at a two-story home on Faile St. by Randall Ave. in Hunts Point, FDNY officials said.

Though firefighters initially thought the house was vacant, they soon found two men, a 36-year-old and another in his 30s, unconscious inside.

he two men were rushed to Lincoln Hospital, where they died.

The fire was still burning as of about 12:50 a.m., FDNY officials said.

Buildings Department records show several reports of squatters and trespassers dating back to 2010, and last October.

Martha Poll, 60, whose family has owned the two-story building adjacent to the fire since 1961, said that the home next door has posed a hazard since its owner passed away and the property was abandoned nearly eight years ago. Her frequent complaints to the city and district manager about the heaps of waste accumulating out front and the continued presence of squatters went unheard, she said.

“I’m disgusted,” she said. “The people I contacted weren’t fast enough. They didn't care.”

On March 30, firefighters responded to a trash fire in front of the same house.

“(They’re) sneaking in through the basement and using the rooms in the abandoned house to live and now they just set the house on fire,” reads a complaint Poll made to the Buildings Department that day.

The next day, officials referred a complaint to city Housing Preservation and Development officials, seeking an order that would allow police to vacate the building.

Poll said the house was boarded up by the Department of Environmental Protection a week later. The squatters returned soon after, breaking in through the building’s backdoor.

Poll warned the squatters streaming in and out of the vacant home to be careful.

“They were doing drugs, drinking a lot and smoking cigarettes,” she said. “I didn't know what they could do.”

She also notified the city, but her complaints were once again neglected.

“I feel bad because those people died,” she said. “If they had sealed the building properly, that wouldn't have happened.”