Illegal Flophouse at Staten Island Home Site of Deadly Fire that Killed Woman

NY Daily News - November 06, 2010

by Jonathan Lemire

The Staten Island home where a woman died in an attic fire was illegally converted into a flophouse, officials said Friday.

Four rooms - including the one where Dorothy Adonolfi perished - were carved out of the second floor and attic of the home on Morningstar Road in Elm Park, according to the Buildings Department.

Adonolfi, 40, was sleeping in the tiny attic bedroom when the fire ignited just before 6:30 a.m. Thursday, officials said. She died later at Richmond University Medical Center.

The building owner, Rubenia Cortez, was issued violations for illegally converting the structure and for exceeding its listed occupancy, according to officials. Neighbors said the 2-1/2-story structure appeared to be used as a crash pad for immigrant workers. Cortez could not be reached for comment.

The blaze started when combustible materials were left under an electric heater in the attic room, fire marshals said.