A Bronx husband and wife have already filed suit against the owners of the Bronx building where a blaze killed 17 people Sunday — demanding $600 million over faulty safety measures they say contributed to the fire’s stunning destruction.
Rosa Reyes and Felix Martinez filed the action in Bronx Supreme Court Monday — a day after the fatal inferno tore through the 19-story building in Fordham Heights.
The lawsuit laid out a litany of alleged negligence by owners of the building at 333 E. 181st St., including failing to ensure front doors were self-closing, have functioning smoke detectors throughout the building, and to keep fire escapes functioning.
It also accuses the owners of not providing adequate heat, allowing alarms to sound “all the time,” and not having an intercom system or a sprinkler system, among other issues.
Reyes and Martinez lived on the 16th floor of the building. Martinez is hospitalized in critical condition and on a respirator due to severe burns, according to his lawyer.
Owners named in the suit as defendants are Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC, Lich Investment Group, Belveron Partners and Camber Property Group. There were no immediate responses to requests for comment.
While unspecified in the lawsuit, Reyes and Martinez are claiming they suffered “pain, shock” and “mental anguish” because of the fire.
A lawyer for the couple said in a separate notice of claim against the city that he’s seeking a class action lawsuit on behalf of all the building’s tenants ― and $1 billion for the entire group of affected tenants.
“We are blaming the city for their failure to ensure that the code was followed and followed up upon,” said attorney Robert Vilensky. “What good is a violation if you don’t follow up on it?”
“This was a totally, totally, totally preventable fire,” he asserted.
The notice of claim blasted former Mayor Bill de Blasio and his buildings commissioner, Melanie LaRocca, for failing to remediate issues like non-functioning self-closing doors in buildings in the Bronx following the December 2017 blaze that killed 13 people on Prospect Ave. in Belmont.
“It is obvious that [the Department of Buildings] and politicians only give ‘lip service’ to safety issues and fire issues and are responsible for the resulting injuries and deaths,” Vilensky wrote in the papers, arguing city agencies failed to do anything after discovering that doors didn’t self-close at the E. 181st St. building.
Jessica Valdez, who escaped her apartment on the 18th floor with her mother and dog as her brother watched from the ground, said she was dismayed it would take a lawsuit to get the building to take basic safety precautions.
“This is just not fair, the loss of life. It was just too many people passed away about something as simple as a door being able to slam shut,” she told the Daily News.
The Jan. 9 fire is the city’s deadliest since the 1990 blaze at the Bronx’s Happy Land Social Club. More than 30 people were rushed to area hospitals with life-threatening injuries. Mayor Adams reduced an initial report of 19 dead to 17.
The blaze sent plumes of thick smoke throughout the Twin Parks North West building and every fatality from the fire was due to smoke inhalation, authorities said.
Erupting in a second-floor duplex at the complex, the blaze was sparked by a space heater; FDNY sources told The News several space heaters had been on and running for days at a time before the blaze was ignited.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the apartment door where the fire started “was not functioning as it should” and didn’t close, allowing flames and thick, toxic smoke to spread rapidly.