With homes ravaged by fire, tenants assess their next steps


After a fire burned through two floors of 3840 Orloff Ave. July 9, several families were left to sift through the rubble, pack up the remains and search for a new place to stay. 

Two vacant apartments and two occupied units were deemed uninhabitable, according to the Red Cross Association. The Red Cross said it assisted nine adults and two children, mostly by providing money for food and clothing.

Fire marshals determined electrical wiring sparked the flames on the fifth and sixth floors, marring apartments 6E, 6F, 5E and 5F too severely for occupancy. Other homes were damaged when about 138 firefighters responded to the three-alarm blaze and ripped through the ceilings and floors while battling the conflagration.

Jaime Sosa spent July 10 lugging furniture, electronics and other items spared by the blaze into a U-haul with fellow paramedics. He and his wife were planning on leaving the city in a year or two to invest in a house and enroll their two sons in better schools. Now, he said, their exodus would likely be expedited.

“I don’t know what we’re doing,” he said. “Right now we’re bouncing around from family to family.”

Mr. Sosa said his family couldn’t get to their clothing and ticked off the few possessions they salvaged – a computer, TV, dog cage and a slightly damaged couch. The hallway outside of his fifth floor apartment was lined with sneakers, a mask, a fan, a trash bag full of DVDs and other miscellaneous items.

“It’s just stuff, it can be replaced,” he said, noting he was thankful his wife overslept the morning of the fire because it prevented their two boys and two dogs from being alone for a few minutes while he commuted home from work. “What if she would have gotten up and left for work? My kids would have cooked.”

Up on the sixth floor, the carpet in the hallway leading to apartments 6F and 6E had been yanked off, leaving adhesive-lined floors. Wooden boards blocked off the passageway. Next door, Victor Marrero watched contractors sweep debris and insulation out of his music studio and living room, where it had spilled out of nearly three-foot wide gashes in the ceilings of both rooms.

Red Cross told Mr. Marrero the apartment was safe enough for him and his brother to remain there. But Mr. Marrero, a rapper and R&B artist under the stage name POES, said he and his brother planned to stay with their girlfriends during the three- to six-week cleanup period.

“I can’t be here with a hole in my ceiling, you know with rats and stuff,” he said.

 Another sixth floor resident noted her family wasn’t sure if they would stay elsewhere or not and said she had concerns about asbestos, because the building was built in the late 60s. 

This is the third fire that has broken out in the building in one year.

Signs on the trash closets noted that they were locked because someone had previously ignited material in them. 

“Someone that resides/lives in this building is setting fires. Endangering the lives of you the tenants your children and pets … If anyone knows the low life trash that is trying to kill the people in this building please call the office and the police,” it read. 

The FDNY responded to 3840 Orloff Ave. on Nov. 11 because of a “small” smoke and fire situation and returned on April 29 to quell a fire in a trash compactor. Nobody was injured. 

The 50th Precinct said it did not have records of any related complaints or arrests.

Residents said they believed the person referred to in the notes no longer frequented the building, but they said it was still concerning.

The management company, 3840 Orloff Avenue Corp., did not return a call for comment.