Devastating April Fire In Sunset Park Caused By Candle, FDNY Says

The Patch - July 09, 2019

A fire that ripped through 702 44th Street on April 3 and displaced hundreds of people was accidental, the fire marshal determined. By Anna Quinn, Patch Staff Jul 8, 2019 4:25 pm ET

SUNSET PARK, BROOKLYN — A massive blaze that ripped through a building on 44th Street back in April and still has hundreds of residents displaced from their homes was caused by an unattended candle, the fire marshals said this week.

The city's fire marshals announced on Monday that they deemed the April 3 fire at 702 44th Street accidental, but used the devastating six-alarm blaze as a call to always pay attention to candles in their apartments.

"FDNY urges New Yorkers to NEVER leave burning candles unattended," FDNY said on Facebook. "Place candles at least 4 feet away from all combustibles, including curtains and bedding, and consider using battery-operated, flameless candles instead."

More than 50 families that were displaced by the fire, which took a full 24 hours to put out, are still recovering months after the blaze tore through the top floors of their apartment building.

A recent feature on some of the families in AM New York reported that it might even be a few years before the families can return to the six-story apartment building.

The fire fully collapsed the building's roof and parts of the sixth, fifth and fourth floors. It injured 23 firefighters and four civilians.

More than 120 people were displaced from the blaze, which fully evacuated all 54 units at 702 44th Street as well as a few residents from neighboring buildings and the backyard of a local church. Many people also lost their pets in the flames. AM New York reported that 13 cats and one dog died in the fire.

A GoFundMe set up to help the victims is still collecting money and has so far raised $134,000 of its $125,000 goal.

"Because of your generosity they will get well over $2,000 per unit," the Sunset Park Business Improvement District said on the fundraiser last month. "This campaign will continue through the end of May. Any donations that come in after our first distribution of funds will be included on a second round of payments."