Fire Marshals Sift Through Charred Trump Tower Apartment for Clues after Blaze Killed Tenant

NY Daily News - April 09, 2018

by CATHERINA GIOINO LAURA DIMON

FDNY fire marshals sifting through charred evidence in a Trump Tower apartment Sunday said they suspected the fatal fire was not sparked intentionally, according to sources.

The investigators were focused on the 50th-floor apartment that belonged to Todd Brassner, a 67-year-old art dealer who died in the blaze Saturday night.

Brassner’s apartment in the Fifth Ave. high-rise became completely engulfed about 5:30 p.m., with flames blasting out the windows.

The four-alarm blaze was brought under control at 7:40 p.m.

Fire marshals were focused on where it originated and how the flames were able to spread so rapidly through the large unit.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro earlier said the lack of sprinklers on the building’s residence floors, where Brassner lived, was identified as a contributing factor.

Sources told the Daily News the cause of the fire appeared to be accidental, though they cautioned the investigation was ongoing.

Meanwhile, several residents recalled feeling panicked and confused, unsure of whether they should evacuate the building. Many residents said they had received minimal direction or information from building management.

“It was scary. Especially since I was with my kids,” said Elena Sepir, 38, who lives on the 58th floor. “And all the smoke went up so my bedroom is filled with exhaust. It’s hard to even be up there. The situation is really hard because you don’t know what to do.”

Sepir, whose kids are 9 and 14, said the elevators weren’t working.

“We took the staircase and there was a lot of smoke, and we were trying to get down and my kids were freaking out. Eventually we made it and so we slept over at a friend’s house,” she said.

Claudia Ospina, 34, ran down 40 flights of stairs with her twin 22-month-old toddlers.

“The people from the building, they said the firemen said it’s not necessary that we evacuate,” she said. “When you have two babies and feel the smoke and the elevator’s blocked, you cannot stay in the apartment. For me it’s a bit irresponsible.”

“It was scary. Especially since I was with my kids,” said Elena Sepir, 38, who lives on the 58th floor. “And all the smoke went up so my bedroom is filled with exhaust. It’s hard to even be up there. The situation is really hard because you don’t know what to do.”

Sepir, whose kids are 9 and 14, said the elevators weren’t working.

“We took the staircase and there was a lot of smoke, and we were trying to get down and my kids were freaking out. Eventually we made it and so we slept over at a friend’s house,” she said.

Claudia Ospina, 34, ran down 40 flights of stairs with her twin 22-month-old toddlers.

“The people from the building, they said the firemen said it’s not necessary that we evacuate,” she said. “When you have two babies and feel the smoke and the elevator’s blocked, you cannot stay in the apartment. For me it’s a bit irresponsible.”