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Fire leaves residents with broken doors weeks later

October 3, 2012 4:52:47 AM PDT
If you're one of those New Yorkers who always keeps their doors locked, and these days of course who isn't, this story will give you frightening chills.

Dozens of folks in the Bronx are living in fear since a fire three weeks ago. Their doors were knocked down by firefighters; they haven't been fixed yet. They can't lock their doors. They live in the Kingsbridge Heights section.

The councilman who represents this area said the building has 77 violations, more than 30 of them are related to the fire. Inspectors gave the building's management until today to get most of this work done, but they were told by the landlord that the insurance company is to blame for all of these delays.

Tenants said they've had enough, and it's time to organize. Fire tore through their building nearly three weeks ago, and they said the landlord has done little to nothing about it, despite it being unhealthy and unsafe.

"The walls are still damaged from the smoke," tenant Lennie Ascevedo said. "The landlord doesn't show up to say what's going on, or at least inform us and give us information on what we should expect to be done anytime soon."

Residents said they're still dealing with the trauma of being trapped on fire escapes as smoke poured out of their apartments.

Fire marshals charged 46-year-old Wendy Walston with starting the blaze last month, killing her boyfriend and seriously hurting 10 others and a 4-year-old child.

Now, some tenants are forced to use padlocks, since their doors were never fixed. They're also worried about boarded up windows and vacant, fire-damaged apartments.

Councilman Fernando Cabrera said it's unacceptable.

"This landlord has been really been detached, inactive; it's truly a shame that he's not really stepping up," Cabrera added.

Residential Management in Brooklyn hasn't returned any of Eyewitness News's numerous calls for comment.

Inspectors spent much of the morning reviewing what's been done already. From here, the city will decide if it needs to step in, get the work done, and hand the owner the bill.

This afternoon, Eyewitness News heard from Councilman Cabrera's office, and he said that he has urged inspectors to take over the building, because this work needs to be done since it is unsafe and unhealthy.

As for tenants, they meet in the lobby to discuss the problem.

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