Bronx NYCHA residents: No heat in apartment where space heater sparked fire

MORRIS HEIGHTS, Bronx (WABC) -- Six people were injured and two cats died when a two-alarm fire tore through a NYCHA building in the Bronx early Wednesday.

The fire broke out on the second floor of the University Avenue apartment building in Morris Heights just before 2 a.m. and quickly spread to the third and fourth floors.

Fire marshals deemed the fire accidental, saying it was caused by a space heater placed too close to combustible materials in a second floor-apartment.

Tenants in that apartment said they don't have any heat and that the space heater tipped over and made contact with bedding.

"The heater was by the bed, I believe, and I think that the mattress or something caught fire from the heater because there's no heat in the apartment," Shakya McGill said. "If they're giving us heat, we don't got no hot water. And if we got hot water, then we don't got no heat."

She said they've complained to NYCHA about the heat problem.

"It's really messed up," she said. "When are they going to wake up? Thank God all of us are alive and everyone is OK, but there's a lot of families that weren't so lucky."

Residents, including children and babies, fled for their lives and helped each other down fire escapes as the flames spread.

"My friend is on the third floor, and I panicked and I started yelling her name," a resident named Patricia said. "So her husband turned around and told me to get the firemen. 'We can't come out. It's too much smoke.'"

Six people were being treated for injuries that were not believed to be life threatening, but sadly, two cats perished in the blaze.

An unknown number of residents were left homeless and were being assisted by the Red Cross.

University Avenue was closed from 179th Street to Morton Place, and West Burnside Avenue was closed from University Avenue to Andrews Avenue South.

Five apartments on the "J line" of the building were burned out, while the rest of the tenants were allowed to re-occupy their apartments.

NYCHA owns the property but says it is managed by a third party that claims there was heat in the building at the time of the fire. Officials also say they had not received any complaints about a lack of heat in the apartment in question.

----------
* More Bronx news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Copyright © 2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.