Child Clinging to Life, Teen Critical after Fire Rips Through Bronx Apartment Building

NY Post - June 10, 2019

A four-year-old child was struggling for life Sunday after suffering severe burns in a quick-moving, predawn fire that raced through an apartment building the Belmont neighborhood of The Bronx.

A 19-year-old was also critical Sunday morning, the NYPD said.

The injuries included second- and third-degree burns, the most severe. The child was rushed to Jacobi Hospital in critical condition.

Ten other people were also rushed to the hospital from the scene.

The fire broke out just before 2 a.m. on the 14th floor of a 16-story building at 725 Garden Street, part of a federal tax credit subsidized housing complex called Twin Parks.

The fire started in a trash compactor, and spread to the building’s hallways, trapping residents on multiple floors, according to officials.

James, who lives on the fifteenth floor, told The Post he and his brother were about to go to sleep when they heard screaming for help and saw smoke in the hallways.

“I heard the fire alarms I saw the smoke coming from the stairwell so we just covered the doors and opened the windows and put wet scarves on our face,” he said. “It was like an hour or hour and a half we were waiting.”

A worker in the building and Marshall, a resident of the building next door, said they heard fireworks and believed that could have sparked the blaze.

“I was out here last night around 11p.m and people were returning from the festival that was going on,” the worker told The Post. “They had fireworks and stuff. Later, I heard from my apartment the explosion.”

“It’s a mess up there,” he said. “From what I’m understanding the fourteenth floor is completely gone.”

The FDNY has not confirmed how the fire started.

“There were three floors on fire,” a 50-year-old resident who asked to be identified by her nickname, “Wygg,” told The Post.

“Even the roof was on fire,” she said. “Somebody in the hallway was screaming, ‘Fire!’ I looked out the window and all I saw was glass falling. I open the door and here was a lot of smoke.

“Me and my daughter, we had had to run out the exit. A buck-naked man was outside bleeding. He had no clothes on and was bleeding. Some people was helping him out.”

By 3 a.m., the fire was nearly under control. At least 100 residents had poured out into the street with their pets and hurriedly-grabbed possessions. Many had run outside wearing just t-shirts and underwear, or even less — whatever they’d been sleeping in.

“I saw one lady that looked like her skin was coming off,” said Chenell Williams, 40, whose sister lives in the building. She’d rushed there after hearing of the fire.

“She was screaming,” she said. “Her back, feet and arms were burned.”

Residents shivered outside as they waited to learn the fates of their apartments.

“There were people out here with no clothes on,” Williams said.

“My friend she came out from the waist down with no clothes on. There is kids. People just ran out and didn’t think about putting on clothes. That means people were scared.”