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Bronx fire: New York firefighters fought a smoky fire in 1986 in the same building where 17 were killed this week

The March 1986 fire was documented in the official FDNY training publication, WNYF, in which members of the department write about fire incidents, outlining protocols and training, according to an FDNY spokesperson.

The article stated that smoke from the 1986 fire had accumulated to the ground and engulfed entire hallways, seeping through the bottom of closed apartment doors “creating frightening and in some cases untenable conditions for occupants inside “.

Residents who escaped Sunday’s blaze also reported battling thick smoke as it filled the 19-story building.

A ‘faulty’ electric heater in a duplex on the second and third floors started the fire and as apartment residents fled their door was left open, allowing flames to spread as smoke rose. and was invading much of the building, Fire Marshal Daniel Nigro said on Sunday.

The door to the stairwell on the 15th floor was also left open, although the doors were supposed to close automatically, officials said.

“The smoke has spread throughout the building. Hence the enormous loss of life and other people fighting for their lives right now in hospitals in the Bronx,” said Nigro.

The 1986 fire is believed to have originated in the building’s trash compactor, according to the WNYF article.

Although no one died in the 1986 incident, the FDNY noted several fire safety issues in the building, including doors left open and which contributed to “severe smoke condition on all upper floors.” , according to the publication.

The case study found that a stairwell door held open “to increase normal ventilation” on one floor in conjunction with compactor cage doors that were kept open on different floors “contributed to the severity of the ensuing fire, “the article said.

The article said the apartments in the building were equipped with double-locking fire-rated self-closing doors and smoke detectors. He also indicated that the compaction well and compaction rooms had fire sprinklers installed, but it does not specify whether sprinklers were installed throughout the building.

Identified victims

The deaths of all victims of Sunday’s fire were determined to be an accident, according to the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME).

They were between 2 and 50 years old, police said.

They were:

Fatoumata Drammeh, 50, female; Foutmala Drammeh, 21, female; Muhammed Drammeh, 12, male; Nyumaaisha Drammeh, 19, female; Haji Dukary, 49, male; Fatoumata Dukureh, 5, female; Haja Dukureh, 37, female; Mariam Dukureh, 11 years old; Mustapha Dukureh, 12, male; Omar Jambang, 6, male; Sera Janneh, 27, female; Haouwa Mahamadou, 5 years old, female; Seydou Touré, 12, male; Fatoumata Tunkara, 43, female; Isatou Jabbie, 31 years old; Hagi Jawara, 47, male; Ousmane Konteh, 2, male.

Some residents were able to return to the top-floor apartments, New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM) told CNN.

“The process is ongoing and evolving,” said spokesperson Ines Bebea.

The agency was unable to provide a timeline for when or how many people will be entering the building, as the building management is informing residents individually and “not rushing people to their apartments”, Bebea said.

Lawsuits claim $ 3 billion in damages

Tenants and relatives of the victims have filed a class action lawsuit against the building’s current and previous owners, claiming $ 2 billion in damages, according to court documents.

The city and various entities have also been notified of a separate class action lawsuit claiming $ 1 billion in damages for alleged negligence in enforcing building codes.

Bronx fire: New York firefighters fought a smoky fire in 1986 in the same building where 17 were killed this week

In a statement to CNN, New York City Legal Department press secretary Nicholas Paolucci said: “It has been a horrific tragedy and too many lives have been lost. An investigation is underway into this tragic incident. . We will review the request. “

City data shows there have been at least four heat-related complaints and one complaint about a faulty self-closing door reported last year to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the agency that oversees violations of housing development in the city.

Some violations have been remedied, according to the agency.

“HPD is working to ensure that critical violations have been addressed and that the apartments are safe for return,” spokesman Jeremy House told CNN in a statement Wednesday.

Bronx fire: New York firefighters fought a smoky fire in 1986 in the same building where 17 were killed this week

Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC, which purchased the complex in 2019 and is named in one of the lawsuits, has released a brief statement.

“We are devastated by this terrible tragedy and are cooperating fully with firefighters and other agencies as they continue to investigate.”

Lawyer Robert Vilensky has said he represents 22 plaintiffs in the lawsuits, but expects the number to increase.

The lawsuit against the owners of the building alleges that the defendants were negligent on several fronts, including failing to ensure that smoke detectors were working, not providing adequate heat, not having an intercom system and not having a sprinkler system.

CNN’s Julie In, Toby Lyles, Kelly McCleary, Amir Vera and Liam Reilly contributed to this report.


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