3 Dead In Early Morning Bronx House Fire, 4 Others Injured

FiresDisasters and AccidentsHealthWPIX

A couple and their 12-year-old child were killed while four others were injured in an early morning two-alarm fire that ripped through a house in the Bronx Monday.

Fire officials say the blaze began at 3:35 a.m. on the second floor of a two-story house, located at 2319 Prospect Avenue near East 185th Street in the Belmont section. The fire is deemed suspicious.

The fast-moving blaze began on the second floor and "heavy fire conditions" advanced to the third floor, trapping members of one family who lived on that floor, according to Assistant Deputy Fire Chief James Leonard. The fire was brought under control about an hour later.

The bodies of the three victims were found on the third floor.

Officials have identified the victims as 36-year-old Juan Lopez, his 40-year-old wife Christina and their son, Christian Garcia, 12.

Witnesses said the intense flames blocked the fire escape, preventing residents from evacuating through the window.

Stephanie Marsh's family owns the other side of the property, 2319 Prospect Avenue. She heard the family on the third floor screaming.

"I heard them screaming and banging on the walls," said Marsh. "By the time we made it out, we could see that the fire was right in front of their door which is probably why they could not make it out."

Marsh's husband, Chancey, told PIX 11 News the property attached to his is owned by the Bank of New York. He said the family was squatting in the apartment and paid rent to a "degenerate man" who was renting units and claimed to be the building superintendent.

Residents told PIX 11 News the two-family house may have been illegally subdivided.

Eduardo Sanchez, a tenant on the second floor of 2321, says so-called landlord has not been seen in at least a month and that just last week, the power to his side of the building had been turned off. He's been using a battery-powered lantern in his apartment since then.

Although Sanchez lost everything in the fire, his concern was the family on the third floor who lost their lives.

"They were good, genuine people," he said. "It's really sad."

More than 100 firefighters responded to the scene. Four firemen and four rescued residents suffered minor injuries.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

"On Easter Sunday, to see a family of three dying, it's sad," another neighbor told PIX 11 News. "What family would want this for themselves on Easter Sunday?"

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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