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Nearly 200 Firefighters Battle Blaze at 'Deplorable' Building, FDNY Says

DNA Info - September 28, 2017

by Aidan Gardiner

THE BRONX — Nearly 200 firefighters battled a fire Wednesday morning that tore through the top of a complaint-plagued Mount Hope apartment building that houses many elderly residents, according to FDNY officials and city records.

The broke out between the roof and the ceiling on the top floor of 1920 Walton Ave., near East 177th Street, just before 6:30 a.m., an FDNY spokesman said.

About 198 firefighters brought the blaze under control by 8:45 a.m., officials said.

One injured firefighter was treated at Bronx-Lebanon and listed in stable condition, an FDNY spokesman said.

Another refused medical attention, and a third was being evaluated at the scene, Nigro said.

It wasn't immediately clear what sparked the blaze.

"[Firefighters] found a heavy fire condition in the area between the top floor and the roof," said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro. "That's an area in this type of building where fire spreads rather quickly. It did in this case,"

The building has about 75 apartments, and many residents on the top floors won't be able to return after the fire, Nigro noted.

"There will be a number of families homeless tonight, unfortunately," he said.

The building is home to many elderly and disabled people, according to Department of Buildings records.

In 2016, callers made nine complaints about broken elevators in the building, many of them noting how badly the lifts were needed, records show.

"There are a lot of elderly people who cannot make it up the stairs," said one complaint on June 17, 2016.

Another caller noted that "he is disabled and needs assistance," records show.

The building has a history of complaints, many of them related to elevators, dating back to 1995, when a caller reported that the elevator only worked during the day.

"BLDG IS IN DEPLORABLE CONDITION, NO MAILBOXES," a 1998 caller complained.

In 2003, someone called the DOB to report that sparking wires were poking through a second floor apartment's walls, records show.

Two days after that complaint, the DOB issued a violation because support beams had rotted and were collapsing apartments from the first through the sixth floors, records show. A caller reported a similar issue three years later.

As recently as last month, a tenant complained that the landlord had put up a partition to divide the tenant's apartment in half, records show. DOB inspectors weren't able to access the apartment and never issued a violation, according to building records.

The building is owned by 1920 Walton LLC, which is based in Lakewood, New Jersey.

Contact information for the landlord was not immediately available.