Deadly apartment fire in Brooklyn

Deadly apartment fire in Brooklyn caused by careless smoking, FDNY says

Authorities say a deadly apartment fire in Brooklyn Thursday night was accidental, caused by careless smoking.

56-year-old Rupert Smith was killed in the blaze that broke out just after 10 p.m. in a six-story apartment building on Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights.

Investigators say the fire broke out in Smith’s second-floor apartment and spread.

When firefighters arrived, the fire was out the second-floor window.

Once inside, firefighters found Smith in an apartment. He was unconscious and had burns all over his body.

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A look inside the apartment where a 56 year old man was killed in a fire last night. The fire was contained to one apartment . @ABC7NY

Smith has a history of setting fires and that is part of the investigation, the FDNY said.

Residents had to quickly rush out to escape.

“I told the kids to go out. By the time I went back in to grab my robe, the kids were coming back up because they were overtaken by the smoke,” said tenant Shatoya Killings. “So we had to make our way through the fire escape. But we couldn’t get down because the ladder wasn’t down so we had to stay at the bottom of the fire escape.”

Four residents in the building were treated for smoke inhalation.


‘lucky’ to have escaped

Malone fire victims feel ‘lucky’ to have escaped

  • By DENISE A. RAYMO Press-Republican

A few minutes later, his girlfriend, Lakeisha Mitchell, woke up and told him she could smell smoke.

About the same time, someone started pounding on their door, yelling there was smoke in the hallway of their four-story apartment house at 384 West Main St.

“We got out onto the fire escape, and the flames started shooting up,” Coates said.

“I had to carry her down the fire escape,” he said, gesturing to Lakeisha, who is five weeks pregnant with their first child.

“I carried her down, then I brought four little kids down and went in again,” Coates said.

“There were so many kids, I kept going in to help.”

Everyone that he and first responders assisted got to safety as firefighters from 17 Franklin County departments, five fire departments from St. Lawrence County and one from Clinton County poured into the village from all directions to help.


The couple sat on the stoop of the former Kriff’s Furniture Store building across the street from the fire site as volunteer firefighters continued to peel off strips of metal roofing more than nine hours after the blaze was first reported to Franklin County Fire Control.

“This whole place was full of smoke,” he said, raising his arms to indicate the two-lane passage of Main Street/Route 11, which is lined with tall, old buildings on each side.

Thirty people were sent to the Emergency Department at University of Vermont Health Network, Alice Hyde Medical Center to be checked out as a safety precaution.


Coates and Mitchell were medically cleared and left to come back downtown to see how badly the building was damaged.

“Luckily, nothing was wrong with us,” Coates said. “But all of our stuff is gone. Even my wallet’s up there.”

He had not been able to contact the American Red Cross for help because he had no minutes left on his pre-paid phone.

But across town where the Red Cross has established an emergency shelter at the Malone Adult Center, the aroma of goulash cooking and a cheery chalkboard sign encouraging people to grab a fresh cup of coffee greeted the nine victims being helped there.

All had just enough time to leave with the clothing or pajamas on their backs after being evacuated by firefighters and police.


Angela Dolan and her boyfriend, Richard Rhinehart, were being helped at the shelter. They lived on different floors of the adjoining apartment house to the immediate right of where the fatal fire occurred, so they aren’t sure how much smoke and water damage their belongings might have endured.

“We went outside and saw the flames, and people were running all over the place, trying to get out,” he said.

“It was a nightmare. I’m deathly afraid of fire. But my girlfriend’s front door goes right out to Main Street, so we got right out.”

“I’m just thankful everybody’s OK,” Rhinehart said. “I knew a lot of the people who lived there.”

He said a neighbor, Faye Fleury, was very upset at the scene because she had not been able to find her cat, but Dolan said the pet turned up safe a little later.


“It seems like we were lucky,” Dolan said. “Oh, it could have been such a disaster if anyone else had been hurt. I felt awful; I still feel awful about the whole thing,” she said.

“He just decided to stay with me. He wasn’t going to, but for some reason, we decide to stay together,” Dolan said.

“I was awake at 1:30 and heard a commotion in the back yard and didn’t know what it was. Then I saw somebody going down the fire escape, so I looked out the front window and saw the fire trucks.

“Seems like we were lucky,” she said. “But this is a sad time.”


The Red Cross will have the shelter open until at least Monday unless the fire victims can all be placed in other safe lodging before then, said Bridget Nelson, an AmeriCorps and Red Cross disaster-services volunteer.

Community members were already offering furniture and bringing bags of clothing to the Adult Center.

Director Paulette Dear said the agency was using the food planned for Monday’s Meals of Wheels and congregate-meal program to feed the fire victims and that an alternate menu will be created for those clients when the new week begins.

If the center is still needed as a shelter on Monday, when meals are typically served at the Route 30 site, the fire victims will be fed with the elderly patrons but the scheduled bridge card game will be postponed.


Sandro Colon, who lived on the third floor of the apartment house for about a year, was one of the people being helped at the shelter until he can figure out what he is going to do next.

“We don’t know what’s going on,” he said of the fire’s destruction.

“We may have lost all of our belongings. We may have to start all over again.”

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10 injured in Hunts Point Bronx

10 injured in Hunts Point Bronx

Residents gathered outside the walk-up building as the FDNY battled the blaze.

“When they arrived, they had a heavy smoke and fire condition coming from the third-floor windows, which drew their attention to the third floor. We believe the fire actually started on the first floor, and an interior shaft, windows, and toward the back of the building,” said FDNY Chief Roger Sakowich.

Flames and black smoke billowed out of the windows and took over the five floor apartment building.

“I see everyone yelling ‘fire, fire,’ running down the stairs,” Anthony Faison said.

A little girl hiding in her room was rescued by good Samaritans who happened to be walking down the street.

“We heard the lady screaming, ‘oh, my daughter’s in there,’ so me and my brother went inside,” one man said.

The two men plus another neighbor teamed up and fought heavy smoke and flames to get her out.

“There was a lot of smoke up in the air and it was clear in the bottom, so we went under, but it was too hot, and too much smoke, so we couldn’t get through,” he said.

They said they knocked the door down and eventually used the fire escape — pushing out an AC unit to pull her to safety.

“Tito passed her to me through the fire escape, so she was crying, she just looked so scared it kind of broke my heart,” Faison said.

Sakowich told CBS2’s Reena Roy at the scene that 10 people injured — four civilians and six firefighters. None of the victims suffered life-threatening injuries, and most were caused by smoke inhalation, the FDNY said.

The fire had spread quickly to the back of the building, then up the shaft to other floors. The conditions were so dangerous that firefighters had to shelter two people inside as 150 FDNY members brought it under control.

“We decided it was too risky to bring them down at that point and we sheltered them in place and actually got oxygen to them until it was safe to bring them down,” Sakowich said.

The American Red Cross Greater New York was on the scene offering assistance. Officials said everyone made it out and will recover. They are still trying to figure out what caused the fire.


Heroes rush into burning building

Heroes rush into burning building, save senior citizens


PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) – “I ran in there and knocked on her door,” said Kenneth Breaux.

Proulx and his brother Joseph Jones ran into the West Manor Apartments in Pontiac after seeing smoke coming from the roof of the building Saturday evening.

“My step mother Shirley Jones lives there and we ran up a fire escape to get to her. We knocked on the door, but she never answered,” Breaux explained.

Joseph Jones said his brother helped four senior citizens escape from the burning building. He said he helped three get out.

“I had to carry one woman down the stairs because she couldn’t walk,” said Jones.

After helping seven people get out safely, the brothers said they couldn’t go back inside because, by that time, that side of the building was engulfed in flames.

The fire broke out at the senior apartment complex just after 4 p.m. Saturday.

According to its website, there are 47 residential housing units.

Right now, it’s unclear how many people were inside the complex during the time of the fire, but we’ve learned everyone made it out safely.

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office says a resident was using a barbecue grill on his balcony when it caught fire.

The incident has been ruled accidental.




6 Children Hospitalized After Providence Fire

6 Children Hospitalized After Providence Fire

Six children have been hospitalized with minor injuries following a fire in Rhode Island.

June 26, 2017, at 5:06 a.m.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Six children have been hospitalized as a precautionary measure following a fire in Rhode Island.

Firefighters say the fire broke out in a Providence apartment building around 10 a.m. Sunday.

Arriving firefighters found two children on the second floor fire escape and used ground ladders to rescue them. Fire officials say the two rescued and other four children who lived in the building were taken to the hospital as a precaution.

None of the five adults who lived in the building were injured. One firefighter was hospitalized for a hand injury.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

‘potentially catastrophic’ conditions at apartment building

DA looking into ‘potentially catastrophic’ conditions at apartment building


The Allegheny County district attorney’s office is looking into conditions inside of a Wilmerding apartment building.
Vincent Coury, a tenant of Faller Apartments, said he has a crack in the gas line to his stove, a hole in his ceiling and cockroaches.
“Throw us out,” Coury said. “That’s what they want to do because the building is not safe.”
Outside the building, a fire escape has steps missing and there are dozens of other code violations.
In a statement, District Attorney Stephen Zappala said he “is very concerned about the safety of the residents living in that building, and right now we’re considering our options with respect to holding the landlord responsible for conditions that are potentially catastrophic.”
Coury, who has lived in the building for about six months, said he may be forced to move soon.

Fire Escapes Can Save Lives, or Take Them!

Fire Escapes Can Save Lives, or Take Them!
Philadelphia Property Owners Required to File Fire Escape Inspection Reports by July 1st 2017.
The tragic January 12th 2014 fire escape collapse which took the life of one Philadelphia student and severely injured two others when they fell 4 stories while smoking out on a fire escape balcony initiated the City Council’s review of the condition of fire escapes in Philadelphia.  They discovered that an overwhelming majority of fire escapes throughout the city are compromized structurally and have never been maintained since installation.  Most fire escapes are over 50 years old and are also covered in lead paint.  These findings resulted in this requirement:
“The owner of any building with fire escapes or fire escape balconies shall be responsible for retaining a Professional to conduct periodic inspections of the fire escapes and fire escape balconies, and to prepare and file a report on such inspection with the owner. All fire escapes and fire escape balconies must be inspected and the reports submitted by July 1, 2017.
A summary of that inspection must be submitted to the Department of Licenses and Inspections on a form titled: “Summary Inspection Report of Fire Escapes and Fire Escape Balconies”.
The City of Philadelphia’s Property Maintenance Code requires all building owners to maintain their buildings in good repair, structurally sound and sanitary so as to not impose a threat to the public. Additionally, the Fire Code establishes specific requirements for periodic inspections of fire escapes and fire escape balconies and the filing of reports of such inspections. This document serves to inform the public of the method of reporting those inspections to the Department.”
The expert witness in this fire escape collapse case, FranCisco Meneses of the, teaches seminars nationwide to Fire, Building and Housing Officials on Fire Escape Awareness as well as classes on Fire Escape Industry Standards and Procedures and Property Owner Liability.  The condition of fire escapes in Philadelphia are no different to cities throughout the country where fire escape inspection and maintenance codes were non existent or not enforced for 100 years.
“I celebrate the City of Philadelphia’s focus on this public safety issue and the decisive upgrade of these exterior structures. Finally, fire escapes in Philadelphia will save lives instead of take them.” – Cisco Meneses

Deadline to Comply is Fast Approaching

Deadline to Comply with New Fire Inspection Requirements is Fast Approaching

Article from The National Law Review

The deadline to comply with the new inspection requirements mandated by the recent amendment to the Philadelphia fire code is fast approaching.

In the wake of a fire escape collapse in Center City that caused one death and two very serious injuries, the City of Philadelphia reviewed whether to mandate the inspection of fire escapes. Ultimately, the City of Philadelphia enacted a bill that amended Section F-1011.1 of the Philadelphia Fire Code. This amendment requires building owners to conduct very specific inspections of their building’s fire escapes and fire escape balconies. A report of the inspection must be filed with the Department of Licenses and Inspections (“L&I”).

The initial deadline for filing these inspection reports is July 1, 2017. If the construction of the fire escape or fire escape balcony was completed after July 1, 2007, the first inspection must be conducted within ten years after construction of the fire escape or fire escape balcony was completed. For any fire escapes or fire escape balconies that underwent a restoration within one year prior to July 1, 2017, the building owner may apply for an extension of the initial inspection. Thereafter, building owners must file inspection reports every five years following the submission of the initial report.

A “fire escape” is defined by the ordinance as “a system of metal landings, balconies, stairs, or ladders attached to a building that are not classified as an exterior stairway and are intended or designed to aid in egress from a building in an emergency.” A “fire escape balcony” is defined as “a balcony that projects from the building face and is intended for use in conjunction with a fire escape, an exit stair, or an area of refuge.” Given these very broad definitions, care should be taken not to omit any required component from the inspection.

Only a Pennsylvania licensed professional engineer who is experienced in the practice of structural engineering can perform the inspections. The inspection report must reference all conditions of the fire escape and fire balcony including, but not limited to, significant deterioration, movement, and mechanical operations.

If an unsafe condition is found, then the engineer must immediately notify the owner and, within 12 hours of discovery, notify L&I’s Emergency Services Unit. Within 24 hours of receiving notice of an unsafe condition, the owner must take any and all actions necessary to protect public safety. Within 10 days of receiving a report identifying an unsafe condition, the owner must commence remediation of the unsafe condition and work continuously without interruption until the unsafe condition has been corrected.

If the engineer determines that the condition is safe, so long as certain repairs and maintenance are undertaken, then the owner is responsible for complying with the engineer’s instructions within the time frame specified in the inspection report. If the fire escape or balcony is determined to be safe by the engineer, then the engineer shall post upon the fire escape a tag or placard (made of weather-resistant reflective material) that clearly and legibly states the date of the inspection, the date by which a new inspection is required (five years from the last inspection), and the name and contact information of the engineer who conducted the inspection.


Firefighter’s Manoeuvre Ends in Fatal Fall

Firefighter’s Practiced Maneuver, Five Stories Up, Ends in Fatal Fall

William Tolley, a New York City firefighter, died on Thursday after falling from a tower ladder. 
CreditUli Seit for The New York Times

It was a routine operation at a routine apartment-building fire using a piece of equipment that was tailor made for this vertical city.

And yet somehow, a veteran New York City firefighter fell to his death.

The equipment is called a tower ladder. It is a familiar sight, a telescoping ladder mounted atop a fire truck with a walled platform or “bucket” that hoists firefighters up onto roofs and other high places so that they do not have to climb up and down.

On Thursday in Ridgewood, Queens, Firefighter William Tolley, 42, was lifted to the roof of a five-story building in a tower ladder to ventilate the roof and allow smoke and hot gases to escape. One moment, witnesses said, he was in the bucket, suspended near the roof parapet. The next moment, he was plummeting to the street.

The Fire Department and federal officials are investigating the cause of the accident, a process that could take months. But experienced fire officials and equipment experts said the accident underscored the dangers inherent in working high above the street.


Family members of Firefighter Tolley gathered outside Wyckoff Heights Medical Center as his body was taken to the morgue. CreditUli Seit for The New York Times

“For a painter, for a roofer, for a firefighter, leaving a roof and getting to a ladder, whatever type — there’s always the danger of falling,” said Glenn Corbett, an associate professor of fire science at John Jay College.

Still, deaths in falls from ladders remain rare. In 2007, a firefighter in Brooklyn was climbing down a ladder while holding tools in both hands when the heavy saw slung across his back shifted and knocked him off balance, federal investigators found.

A former deputy chief, Charles R. Blaich, said that the most recent firefighter death in New York City that he knew of involving a tower ladder was 40 years ago, in 1977: A firefighter tried to jump from a fifth-floor fire escape of a burning Manhattan building to the bucket of a tower ladder and missed.

The tower ladder had been developed only about 10 years earlier, at the request of John T. O’Hagan, a department chief who eventually became fire commissioner.


A photograph of Mr. Tolley was hung in front of the firehouse of his company, Ladder 135.CreditUli Seit for The New York Times

Professor Corbett said that Chief O’Hagan was inspired by similar devices used by utilities to raise their workers to poles and wires. The Chicago Fire Department was already using a ladder device known as a snorkel that extended like an elbow unbending. Chief O’Hagan wanted a device like the tower ladder instead, because it extended by telescoping, allowing it to work in narrower spaces, Professor Corbett said. Today, 60 of the 143 Fire Department ladder trucks use tower ladders.

In the case of Firefighter Tolley, witnesses have offered differing accounts. Mayer Weber, a former volunteer firefighter in Fallsburg, N.Y., who was working on a construction site near the Queens fire on Thursday, said that he saw Mr. Tolley in the bucket signaling something to the firefighter below on the truck who was controlling the ladder. The door of the bucket was open and the bucket moved.

“It looked like he was trying to get out onto the roof,” Mr. Weber said on Friday. “It’s possible that what might have happened is that the bucket hit the parapet roof, and since he was halfway out of the bucket on his way out, it bounced him right out.”

Also on Friday, fire officials announced the cause of the blaze: religious incense that residents left burning in their second-floor apartment when they left the building.

“Compounding the tragic loss of Firefighter Tolley’s life is that the fire he responded to and fought bravely could have been prevented,” Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said in a statement. “You should not leave objects such as incense or candles burning while unattended.”

Rusty fire escapes could get upgrade in Iowa town

Rusty fire escapes could get upgrade in one eastern Iowa town


By Katie Wiedemann, KCRG-TV9 |

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) — Property owners in Dubuque can get some financial help upgrading aging fire escapes. The city council approved that funding Monday night.

A state law passed in 2015 requires an engineer to inspect all fire escapes at least once every five years.

In Dubuque, there are about 60 buildings with fire escapes, and many of them are as old as the building itself. A third party engineering inspector will check each fire escape for rust and to make sure they are properly anchored to the building.

“For life safety purposes, really it’s our duty to go out to make sure these places are safe because it could be a disaster in times of emergency,” Rick Steines, Dubuque Fire Chief, said.

Dubuque will give a building owner up to five thousand dollars to repair or replace the fire escape.