Six of the Deadliest Fires in New York City History

NY Daily News - December 30, 2017

by JOHN ANNESE KATE FELDMAN

At least 12 people died Thursday night when a fire ripped through a five-story, 25-apartment building near the Bronx Zoo.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro called the fire “historic,” putting it among the ranks of the most tragic New York City blazes.

Here’s a look at nine of the other deadly fires.

1876 Brooklyn Theater

A fire broke out at the Brooklyn Theater during a sold out Dec. 5, 1876 performance when a gas stage light lit up a canvas backdrop. With only one staircase leading out of the building and no fire escapes, 278 people died, including some who were trampled to death in the chaos.

1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

One of the most famous fires in history, 146 workers died on March 25, 1911 when a fire started in a scrap bin at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. The fire spread through the three floors of the Asch Building where the factory was located. With the doors to stairwells and exits locked to keep employees inside, many jumped out of the windows from the eighth, ninth and 10th floor.

One hundred and forty-six people died from the fire, smoke inhalation or by falling or jumping out of the building.

1990 Happy Land

An arsonist, Julio Gonzalez, used $1 worth of gasoline to torch the Happy Land social club, after a bouncer booted him out for getting into a fight with an ex-girlfriend. He killed 87 people in the blaze, and died in prison on Sept. 13, 2016.

1976 Puerto Rican Social Club

An unemployed salesman and a teenager killed 25 and injured dozens more when they spread gasoline in a Bronx nightclub on Oct. 24, 1976. The men also covered the building’s only staircase in gasoline, leaving partygoers to escape through the second-story window.

1966 Wonder Drug and Cosmetics

Twelve firefighters were killed when the floor of a renovated Wonder Drug store collapsed on E. 23rd St. at Broadway, as they were trying to make their way into a four-story brownstone on E. 22nd St.

2007 Highbridge, Bronx

A fire started by a space heater’s electrical cord ravaged an apartment building on Woodycrest Ave. in the Bronx, killing nine children and one adult. The building’s owner, Moussa Magassa, lost five of his young children, while Mamadou Soumare lost his wife and their four children, two of them infants.

2015 Borough Park, Brooklyn

An early-morning blaze sparked by a hot plate left on for the Sabbath tore through the Borough Park home of Gayle and Gabriel Sassoon. Seven of their children died.

2017 Queens Village

A fire in a Queens Village home killed four children, Chayce Lipford, 2, Rashawn Matthews, 10, Hada Foxworth, 16, and Melody Edwards, 17, and one adult, Destiny Dones, 20.

2017 Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn

Aliza Azan and her three kids, Henrietta, 3, Yitzah, 7, and Moshe, 11, perished in a blaze sparked by a menorah in their Sheepshead Bay house.