Bronx Fire Leaves Four Dead, Including Three Children, Officials Say
By David Schwartz, February 12, 2011
Four people died, including three young children, firefighters said Wednesday as they battled the worst heat wave in weeks in the Bronx.
A fire at the Westchester home where the dead children lived was ruled accidental before it started, and investigators were trying to rule out negligence.
“It was a tragic accident,’’ said Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Albano. “There had been a number of fires in the residence, and the firefighters had been advised to make some sort of contact with it before they entered.’’
Six people, including 10 children, were temporarily evacuated from their Westchester home. Eight were rescued from the roof, officials said, and three children — ages 3, 4 and 6 — died.
The victims were the only occupants of the family’s second-floor apartment at the time the blaze erupted around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, as firefighters continued to battle a heat wave that has engulfed the East Coast.
The fire, which was reported at about 9:40 p.m., had spread to the roof and upper floors of the eight-story structure. Flames spread to the roof of the nearby adjacent building before the blaze was extinguished, emergency officials said.
The three children who died were identified as Anna, 3, Jessica, 4, and James, 6.
The official cause of the fire was accidental.
Officials said that the building was uninhabitable and that the area was too hot for many residents to safely enter.
Fire Commissioner Albano said that the fire was the city’s “biggest fire this summer until the heat wave in August,’’ according to WCBS.
The heat has pushed New York City’s death toll since June to the highest it’s been on record, with four people being killed. The number of people stricken with heat-related illnesses topped 100,000 on Wednesday and heat indices soared above 100, officials said.
City officials also cited a number of other factors: the heat combined with high humidity, poor building maintenance, the use of faulty air conditioning units, and the availability and quality of emergency firefighting resources.
The death toll could rise. The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for the Eastern United States Wednesday,