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Monday, September 22, 2014

Residents say that their building was a fire trap

By Aimee Kuvadia
Posted

The Sept. 12 fire at 2727 University Ave. in Kingsbridge Heights that claimed one life could have been even worse.

Residents who live on the second floor where the fire began, said that on the night of the blaze, their fire escape ladders wouldn’t go down and the hallway smoke detectors failed to sound.

“There were a lot of people who couldn’t get out because of the fire escapes and had to wait for firefighters,” said Nerys Ramirez, who has lived in the apartment across from where the fire originated for eight years.

Fire escapes and smoke detectors aren’t even listed in the extensive registry of complaints for the building on the Department of Housing Preservation and Development website. Since January, more than 120 complaints have been filed, only about 30 of which were related to the fire.

Many people’s doors were knocked down by firefighters the night apartment 2C went up in flames. But it wasn’t until almost a month later — on Monday — that management replaced them. Building residents had previously secured their damaged doors with multiple padlocks.

“We have no doors, but they send us a check for rent,” said a second-floor resident, who wished to remain unnamed for fear of retaliation.

She said she’s also livid that she has to pay $65 out of her own pocket to add a second lock to the new door she received, even though her previous door, which was damaged by the fire, came equipped with one.

Her furniture is coated in soot. She said she’s been staying with her family because she has to buy a new mattress before she can sleep in her apartment again.

Ms. Ramirez wasn’t surprised that the cause of the Sept. 12 was determined to be arson. She said she had been complaining “all the time” about the people who lived across from her in apartment 2C, where the fire began. 

“The fire could have been prevented if management had paid attention to what we were saying about the people.”

She said the apartment she suspected illegal activities inside the apartment and called the police often. She said police were even there the night of the fire.

Wendy Walston, who lived in the apartment where the fire began, is accused of setting the blaze that ended the life of Thomas Galvin. 

Residential Management Inc. in Brooklyn is responsible for overseeing the building. The company did not return numerous calls for comment.

Police did not return calls for comment.

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