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Two Men in Bronx House Fire May have Died of Heroin Overdoses

NY Daily News - May 12, 2017

by ADAM SHRIER JOHN ANNESE GRAHAM RAYMAN

Two people who died in a fast-moving fire that ripped through a vacant Bronx house were using heroin and may have died of overdoses, sources said Thursday.

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

Firefighters initially thought the house was vacant, but two men identified by sources as Jose Fernandez, 31, and Carlos Papin, 36, were found unconscious inside.

Medics rushed the two men to Lincoln Hospital, where they died, officials said. They did not suffer burns but could have died of smoke inhalation or the heroin they took, sources said.

The city Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine how the men died.

The fire was brought under control at 1:10 a.m. The cause remained under investigation Thursday.

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

Police sources said squatters often used the vacant home to do drugs.

Martha Poll, 60, whose family has lived next door since 1961, said the home has posed a hazard since its owner passed away and the property was abandoned nearly eight years ago.

Her frequent complaints to the city about heaps of garbage accumulating out front and the continued presence of squatters went unheard, she claimed.

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

The house was boarded up by the Department of Environmental Protection after a fire in March, but squatters quickly returned, breaking in through the building’s backdoor.

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

WITH ROCCO PARASCANDOLA, THOMAS TRACY