Building Fires Leave Dozens Homeless in Subfreezing Temps

NY Post - December 28, 2017

by Amanda Woods, Kevin Fasick and Tamar Lapin

Dozens of residents were displaced in subfreezing temperatures when fires broke out early Wednesday in apartment buildings in upper Manhattan and The Bronx, officials said.

No major injuries were reported after a blaze erupted about 4:20 a.m. in the top floor of a six-story building at 3414 Knox Place near Van Cortlandt Park, fire officials said.

The Red Cross said 15 families – a total of 42 people – were taken to a public school for the time being.

At around the same time, another fire erupted a couple of miles away on the first floor of 795 Garden St. near the Bronx Zoo. At its height, the fire reached three alarms, with 138 firefighters responding.

A resident and a firefighter suffered minor injuries by the time the fire was brought under control around 7 a.m.

“People ran out without socks, some people wearing flip-flops, some people in just a gown and its freezing out here!” said Thomas Moran, a worker at the 9/11 Memorial who lived on the fifth floor with his mother.

The Red Cross gave out blankets and something hot to drink, as now-homeless residents huddled in the bitter cold.

“Some people lost everything,” said Moran, 39, adding that he always tries to look at the silver lining in dire situations.

“Nobody died here, thank God, everything else can be replaced,” he said.

Other residents called the situation “hell.”

“This is beyond miserable, miserable,” said Michael Cotto, a sixth-floor resident who huddled with his wife Jacqueline Colon, and his 20-year-old and 2-year-old daughters.

“We didn’t have time to grab clothes, we came out here and we’re freezing our asses off,” the 42-year-old said.

Cotto, a worker at Montefiore Hospital, blamed the fire on his landlord, though the cause of the fire hadn’t been determined.

“We’ve been complaining about power surges forever,” he said.

Meanwhile, four people were injured in the third morning blaze, which broke out about 5 a.m. on 150th Street in Hamilton Heights, officials said.

Two people were taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. Two others refused medical attention.

The cause of the fires remained under investigation.