Electric plate caused fire that killed Bronx father, teen daughter

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Candace McCowan reports on how a hot plate caused a fire that killed a Bronx father and his daughter.

There is a growing memorial at a building in the Bronx after a fire that killed a father and his daughter.

On a cold winter day, it appears the two might have just been trying to stay warm.

Fire marshals say an electric plate next to bedding caused the fire.

The FDNY received the call at 12:12 p.m. Sunday for the fire in a 7-story residential building on Dewey Avenue in the Throggs Neck Houses.

The fire was on the fourth floor. 13-year-old Yolanda Rojas and her father, 62-year-old Nelson Rojas were pronounced dead at Jacobi Hospital. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries.

The girl's mother arrived Monday from the Dominican Republic to plan her funeral. For Natalie Sosa, the pain is too much to bear.

"I was in Santo Domingo," she said through a translator. "The detectives called me. I just got here. I'm going to take her body back to home."

The heartbreak of her daughter's death was only compounded by the fact that she hadn't seen her in the past three years because of a custody battle.

Natalie says she was close to getting her back. "I had to go to court on the 4th of January but the court date was canceled because of the snowstorm," she said. "I was going to get custody of my daughter."

Yolanda's godmother said they came to the burned out apartment Monday hoping to find something of Yolanda's to hold onto.

"A lot of her things were burned. We were able to salvage some of her belongings to remember her," she said.

Candles, flowers, and teddy bears sat outside the Throggs Neck Houses in memory of the two victims, as the community gathered for a vigil Sunday night.

"She was a good person to talk to," said Nyasia Ortiz, the victim's friend. "I want everyone to remember her. She will be missed a lot."

"It's really heartbreaking for her to be gone already," said Sierra Rodriguez, the victim's friend. "Really young, I feel bad for her family."

Friends say Nelson was a single parent devoted to his daughter.

He would walk her to and from school every day and spent tons of time with her.

"They were inseparable, so when I see them pull her out it just brought tears to my eyes," said Cyrano Butler, a witness. "I'm lighting a candle for them and I hope they're in God's hands."

People who live in the building say they've been struggling to stay warm in this New York City Housing Authority building where some say the heat was not working.

The fire marshal says this fire was accidental.

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Related Topics:
deadly fireteen killedapartment fireThroggs NeckBronxNew York City
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