In second blaze this year, a fire at Trump Tower kills resident

Authorities say the tower doesn't have fire sprinklers; residents say there was no evacuation plan.

Apr.April 08, 2018 10:34 AM

Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan in 2009. (Credit: Bin im Garten)

A fire on the 50th story of Trump Tower New York in Midtown Manhattan killed resident Todd Brassner on Saturday night.

Authorities first responded to the fire in Brassner’s apartment at about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday evening where the severity of the blaze required more than 200 firefighters to attend to the scene. Four firefighters were injured and Brassner, 67, was pronounced dead in hospital, according to the New York Times.

“The apartment was virtually entirely on fire,” said Daniel Nigro, commissioner of the New York City Fire Department, to the New York Post.

President Donald Trump and his family resided full-time in a triplex in the 68-story tower before they moved to Washington, D.C. and the President stays at the property when in New York — no members of the Trump family were in the building on Saturday. The Trump Organization, which owns the 263-unit condo and office building at 721-725 Fifth Avenue, houses their headquarters on the 26th floor. The company developed and opened the building in 1983.

President Trump responded to news of the fire on Twitter:

Daniel Nigro, commissioner of the New York City Fire Department, told reporters that the blaze was “a very difficult fire, as you can imagine. The apartment is quite large,” according to the Financial Times.

Nigro also said the upper floors of the building do not have fire sprinklers and that additional fire protection is required for the building when the President is staying in his unit. (New codes that require sprinklers do not retroactively apply to older buildings like Trump Tower unless they undergo a major renovation, according to the Associated Press.)

Nigro said that despite a “considerable amount of smoke” spreading throughout the building, the structure had “stood up quite well.” Residents in their units on other floors at the time of the fire, however, hold a different view; multiple residents said there was no official evacuation notice.

The New York Times reported that resident Dennis Shields only knew to leave the building because he received a text from Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, who Shields says he grew up with Cohen.

“That’s how I knew to get out, otherwise I’d still be in there,” Shields told the Times.

Meanwhile, another resident, Lalitha Masson, described barricading herself and her husband in their 36-floor apartment. She told a reporter from the Post: “There was no evacuation system in place.”

Saturday’s fire was the second incident this year. In early January, firefighters responded to a blaze that broke out on the roof of the building. A firefighter and two other people were injured in the January fire. [NYT]Erin Hudson

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