Written by Ronemus & Vilensky on January 9, 2023
It has been one year since a devastating apartment fire in the Bronx claimed the lives of 17 individuals. On January 9, 2022, the lives of dozens of families would be changed forever after a fire swept through the Twin Parks apartment located at 333 E. 181st Street. Those families are still struggling to pick up the pieces of shattered lives and shattered hearts.
The Twin Parks Northwest fire is cited as the deadliest fire of its kind in New York City, surpassing the tragic fire at another apartment building in the Bronx that occurred a year earlier and resulted in the deaths of 13 building residents.
Days after the fire at Twin Parks was contained, investigators with the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) discovered that several self-closing doors did not work as designed, allowing the fire to spread throughout the entire building. The doors are designed to close automatically; doors of this type are required by the City of New York for apartment entry doors in multi-unit residential buildings.
In 2019, state inspectors cited the managers of the apartment building, Reliant Realty Services, for the incorrect operation of self-closing doors. The state agency known as Homes & Community Renewal (HCR) ordered immediate repairs because the buildings were being maintained below federal safety standards. It is believed that the doors were never updated or repaired, ultimately leading to the January 2022 tragedy, even though the building managers provided inspectors with work orders claiming that repairs had been completed.
Investigators also discovered that a faulty space heater on the first floor of the building was the likely cause of the blaze. Because the door to the unit where the fire started was left open when residents fled, the fire was able to spread rapidly. Another open door on an upper floor was also left open, creating a vacuum that drew flames upward toward other occupied units in the building.
Robert Vilensky, an attorney with the offices of Ronemus & Vilensky, LLP, believes that this tragedy will lead to increased scrutiny of safety standards in apartments operated within the Five Boroughs of New York City. Vilensky’s firm is representing 97 victims and family members of the Twin Parks fire in a lawsuit and believes more needs to be done to protect the city’s residents from avoidable tragedies.
Contact fire injury attorneys Ronemus & Vilensky if you or someone you loved was injured in a fire in New York.