NEW YORK – An electric heat lamp used to grow marijuana was the cause of the four-alarm fire that engulfed a sprawling Yonkers apartment building earlier this week, killing one person and injuring more than 40, including dozens of other firefighters, authorities said Friday.
The flames broke out in a 6-story building on Bronx River Road in the county town of Westchester around 1 a.m. Wednesday. The fire quickly escalated, consuming the entire 95-unit structure and displacing hundreds of people.
An investigation determined the fire started on the first floor, authorities said Friday, and they believe the likely origin was an electric heat lamp used to grow six potted plants that a resident was growing for his personal use, they said.
The functionaries of Yonkers dijeron que las declaraciones de ese residente, así como la evidence de la escena, llevan a los investigators a creer que la lámpara de alguna manera est déprendió de su soporte colgante y se rompió, provocando chispas en el piso y provocando el fire. Once the resident noticed the fire, authorities say he sounded the alarm and alerted his neighbors.
A total of 35 firefighters and six civilians were injured in the blaze, according to the Yonkers Fire Marshal. One of the injured rescuers was taken to hospital after being hit in the face by flying debris when the roof collapsed. The 41 injured, including civilians, are expected to be fine. The deceased man has not been identified.
It was also not known how many apartments had been totally destroyed. Investigators say the building is not fire resistant. Heavy flames erupted from the sixth floor, where most rescues would have taken place.
Firefighters initially had to take a defensive approach due to harsh fire conditions and windy weather, which made it difficult to fight the flames on the elevated side of the building, authorities said. They also had to work on a parking platform, which could not accommodate motors.
Firefighters doggedly battled the stubborn flames throughout the night and after dawn, finding hot spots each time they advanced.
Between 200 and 300 people are displaced, authorities said, and it took more than six hours to bring the fire under control. Residents have been asked to go to the community center north of the stage, where the Red Cross is helping.
People in their pajamas were seen on the fire escape, screaming for help. Some were saved from balconies and windows. Nearly a dozen people were rescued in all, and three other towns brought more than 100 people to help.
“I opened the front door and I couldn’t even get it fully open. Because I got hit with all this black smoke, so I closed the door. I was like, okay, I have to go out the fire escape,” said Cristal. Wallhall. “I was on the fire escape with another family and their children, so we were all trying to figure out how to get down the fire escape and get down safely.”
Bronx River Road between Midland Avenue and Mile Square was closed for much of the day.
The investigation is ongoing.
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