Four Dead in Ferocious Three-Alarm Bronx Blaze that Gutted Top Floor of Apartment Building

NY Daily News - April 01, 2020

by KERRY BURKE and JOHN ANNESE

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A raging fire gutted the top floor of a six-story Bronx apartment building on Tuesday night, killing four women and injuring another victim, officials said.

The blaze started in a sixth-floor apartment on Grand Concourse near E. Mount Eden Ave. in Mount Eden, with smoke pouring into two neighboring apartments, officials said Tuesday night.

The thick smoke killed two women in one neighboring apartment, and two more in another, police said. Witnesses said firefighters pulled all four women from the building, but all were unconscious. One witness watched as medics frantically tried to revive one woman.

"They were pumping the chest of the woman. She wasn’t responding. She didn’t look good,” said one witness, who didn’t give his name. One of the victims, Maribell Turner, 70, was a nurse practitioner, her grieving sister told the Daily News.

“She always took care of other people," her sister said, as one of Turner’s adult sons wept just a feet away. “She has three grown kids.”

Turner’s niece, who lived with her, also died, family said.

“She was a retired nurse at Bronx Lebanon across the street. She was overcome by the smoke from the other apartment, and then the place lit on fire,” said a relative, who didn’t give his name. The blaze broke out at about 7:30 p.m., and quickly escalated to a three-alarm fire. Firefighters brought the flames under control at 9 p.m., FDNY officials said.

“It was three apartments on the sixth floor. They were all seniors.They lived here for over 40 years. One of them was about to celebrate her hundredth birthday. Another was in her 90s," said neighbor Debra Myers. “I can’t believe it. They were lovely people. They were good neighbors."

All four victims were taken by stretcher to BronxCare Health System, the former Bronx Lebanon Hospital, located across from the fire-ravaged building.

The fifth victim suffered minor injuries, an FDNY spokesman said.

“The smoke was so thick I could not pass," said Rosline Ephraim, 60, who lives on the sixth floor. "The firefighters were breaking down my door and I got down on the fire escape.”

She was still wearing her pajamas when she rushed outside. "I only hope my home is not gone,” she said.

Officials were looking into whether a space heater might have sparked the blaze, a source said; an investigation was underway.