Salem Radio Network News Monday, January 24, 2022


Open doors that may have fueled New York fire under investigation

By Carlo Allegri and Brendan O’Brien

NEW YORK (Reuters) -New York authorities said on Monday the city was investigating a possible “maintenance issue” with doors that failed to close when a devastating fire erupted in a Bronx apartment building a day earlier, killing 17 people, including eight children.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, just over a week into the job, said at a briefing that the city’s medical examiner determined the fire had claimed two fewer victims than the 19 announced on Sunday.

The blaze broke out on Sunday morning in the 19-floor Twin Parks North West building, which provided affordable housing units for low-income New Yorkers. Many of the residents were from the large Gambian community that lived in the neighborhood.

“This is a global tragedy as The Bronx and New York City is representative of the ethnicities and cultures across the globe,” Adams said during a briefing in front of the building. “This is an evolving crisis. An unspeakable tragedy.”

Adams said he spoke with U.S. President Joe Biden, who pledged that the White House will provide “whatever” New York City needs to address the aftermath of the fire.

The catastrophe was likely to stir questions on safety standards in low-income city housing. It was the second major fire in a residential complex in the United States this week after 12 people, including eight children, were killed early on Wednesday when flames swept through a public housing apartment building in Philadelphia.

Cleanup crews dressed in white hazmat suits were on the scene cleaning glass and debris off sidewalks on Monday as firefighters and fire department officials continued to examine the building’s interior and exterior.

The street was cordoned off where a small group of people gathered, some bringing clothing and other donations to assist victims.


Fire marshals determined through physical evidence and accounts from residents that the fire started in a portable electric heater in a bedroom of an apartment that spanned the second and third floors of the building. The heat had been on in the apartment building and the portable heater had been supplementing that heating, they said.

Earlier in the day on “Good Morning America,” Adams said smoke from the fire was able to spread due to an apartment door being open. Doors in apartments are required to close automatically to prevent fires from spreading through the building.

“There may have been a maintenance issue with this door and that is going to be part of the ongoing investigation,” Adams said. “This is all going to come out during the investigation.”

Investigators are also looking into the possibility that a door to the 15th floor stairway was not functioning as it should, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said, adding that residents would have been safer if they stayed in their apartments rather than exiting down stairways.

Nigro said fire officials do not yet have a tally of how many victims were found in apartments, stairwells and hallways.

He added that stairwells were “very dangerous” during the emergency because of the smoke filling the area.

Addressing the revised death toll, Nigro said patients had been taken to seven different hospitals in the city, which led to “a bit of a double count.”

Some 60 people were injured in the blaze and 32 people were hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, officials said on Sunday.

More than 200 firefighters helped put out the blaze.

“Many of them, of their oxygen tanks were on empty,” Adams said on Monday. “But instead of turning back and exiting the building, they pushed through, through the smoke.”

The building is owned by a joint venture, Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC, made up of three firms: LIHC Investment Group, Belveron Partners and Camber Property Group.

The building was constructed in 1972 as part of a state program to provide affordable housing, a spokesperson for the joint venture said. All 120 units are covered by subsidy programs, the spokesperson said.

Four faith leaders, including Rev. Kevin McCall, held a prayer vigil with onlookers outside of the apartment on Monday morning. McCall, who is a pastor at Anointed by God Ministry in New York’s Brooklyn bureau, called on Adams to sign an executive order stipulating the city provide heat to residents whenever weather forecasts fall below 30 degrees.

“We should not have to wait on the landlord to figure it out,” said McCall, who identified himself as a civil rights leader and founder of Crisis Action Center. “He should have emotional intelligence and sign an executive order immediately.”

(Reporting by Carlo Allegri in New York and Brendan O’Brien in ChicagoEditing by Nick Zieminski)


Editorial Cartoons

View More »

Michael Ramirez
Wed, Jan 19, 2022