Illegal Fireworks Sparked Blaze that Destroyed Bronx Apartment: FDNY

NY Daily News - June 26, 2020


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A massive blaze that destroyed a Bronx apartment and tore through the roof of the building was sparked by illegal fireworks.

FDNY fire marshals investigating the Tuesday morning fire on Valentine Ave. near E. 196th St. in Fordham Manor determined that fireworks sparked the heavy blaze that ripped through a room on the top floor.

No injuries were reported, but the family living in the burned-out apartment say they’ve lost everything.

“Now we don’t have anywhere to stay,” said Trisha Dunk, who lives in the apartment with her mother, her son and one of her brothers. “Everything is gone.”

She said she hasn’t heard from the Red Cross or any relief agencies, and is staying with a close friend.

“How long can you stay with a friend for?” she worried.

Dunk said she was on her way to a laundromat when the blaze broke out. “I was shocked. It happened so fast,” she said. “By the time I reached the laundromat, which is just around the corner, someone called me and told me my house was on fire.”

Dunk wonders how fireworks could cause so much damage, musing that the blaze may have spread from an electrical problem, but the building’s super said the culprits left the discarded fireworks box on the roof to smolder for days.

“We think they were on the roof sometime Saturday. They set them off from a big box,” said super George Perez. “It started around Saturday. There was a smell of burning chemicals but no smoke.”

He added, “They had left the box. They were very reckless about it. They should have gotten rid of it.”

Several hours after the rooftop blaze, a 3-year-old Bronx boy was hospitalized when fireworks flew through the window of his family’s apartment and burned his arm, officials said.

The child was watching the fireworks being set off outside his building on Anderson Ave. and W. 167th St. in Highbridge when an errant firework flew into his open sixth-floor window just after midnight Wednesday, cops said.

Medics took the child to an area hospital, where he was treated and released. No arrests have been made in either case.

On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio announced a major crackdown on the rogue pyrotechnic displays that have left city dwellers rattled.

The city’s 911 centers received a whopping 13,315 calls for illegal fireworks from Jan. 1 to June 21, according to the NYPD, with the majority of those calls, 12,578, occurring this month. That’s compared to 1,007 calls from Jan. 1 to June 21, 2019.

The city’s 311 call centers were swamped, too. They got 11,535 calls about illegal fireworks via 311 from Jan. 1 to Sunday — compared to just 54 during the same time frame last year — according to the NYPD.