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FDNY Battles String of Fatal House Fires in the Bronx

April 30, 2016 | Michael Barasch

Bronx firefighters were kept busy starting early Saturday, February 6. Three Bronx residents died in three fires started within 18 hours of each other. The first two house fires happened scant hours and blocks apart, according to the New York Daily News. The first fire, on Beach Ave. in Parkchester, claimed the life of 64-year-old Claudia Bretney. The fire seems to have been sparked by a space heater around 3:15 a.m. in the basement apartment that had no smoke detectors. After almost an hour, FDNY firefighters were able to get the fire under control. Bretney was taken to Jacobi Medical Center where she died.

FDNY Battalion Chief Vincent Mosca told reporters that Bretney’s boyfriend and another woman were both in critical condition at Jacobi. Two other men were hospitalized for smoke inhalation. According to the New York Times, “[f]our other people at the home were injured; three were taken to Jacobi and the fourth to Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center. At Jacobi, a 59-year-old man and a 68-year-old woman were listed in critical condition, and an 80-year-old man was listed in stable condition. At Lincoln, a 68-year-old man was listed in stable condition.”

FDNY Deputy Chief Ronald Werner led efforts to extinguish the second fire, only three blocks away on Guion Avenue at 5:59 a.m. By the time firefighters found Carlos Villafane, 26, badly burned inside his bedroom on the top floor of the two-story home, he was already dead. The fire may have been sparked by a cigarette.

The New York Post reported that “Hours later, at 7:50 p.m. a fire at 934 E. 228th St. in Williamsbridge took the life of a 76-year-old man, who was not identified. The victim was found in the basement. His daughter, who also lives in the building, was not hurt.”

Winter months can be difficult for firefighters, and these fires demonstrate why. Residents often use space heaters in an unsafe manner, and people are less likely to step outside to smoke in frigid temperatures. Plus, firefighters have to battle cold conditions that make strenuous work even more difficult. These factors combine to increase the likelihood of firefighter injuries.

At Barasch & McGarry, our lawyers advocate strongly for injured firefighters. To learn about your rights after a firefighting injury, call us at [ln::phone] or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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