UPDATED, 11:11 a.m., Friday, Dec. 29: At least 12 people were killed when a fire raged through a rental building in Bronx’s Belmont neighborhood, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio. It was the deadliest fire in New York in decades.
More than 160 firefighters were on the scene at 2363 Prospect Avenue, a five-story, 26-unit building constructed in 1916 and owned by D&A Equities. De Blasio said that in addition to the dead, at least four people were critically injured, and two more suffered non-critical injuries. The youngest victim was a 1-year-old, while the oldest was more than 50 years old, according to the New York Times. Firefighters arrived in time to rescue 12 people.
Howard Alkoff’s D & A Equities bought the five-story building from the city in 1984, and there is no indication that any construction work has been done at the building since.
“We are shocked and saddened at the loss of life and injuries which occurred,” said Ronn Torossian, a spokesperson for the landlord. “Our prayers and thoughts are with the families that were affected.
The landlord is communicating with the City of New York and associated agencies.”
There were three violations and four complaints regarding the building between the years 1993 and 2012, all of which had been resolved. However, on the first floor where the fire started, one apartment had open violations for faulty carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, according to the New York Daily News.
Alkoff also owns the neighboring 95-unit building at 2357 Prospect Avenue.
The fire was sparked by a young child in a first-floor apartment playing with a stove, according to de Blasio.
Officials said they would set up a center at Grace H. Dodge vocational high school near the building for people in need of a place to stay or additional services and encouraged people looking for relatives in the building to call 311 or go to the school. — Chava Gourarie and Eddie Small