About 25 families were displaced when Thursday’s fatal fire ripped through a Bronx apartment building, an American Red Cross of Greater New York spokesman said on Friday.
The blaze saw dozens of residents of the five-story building on Prospect Avenue hurry outside, greeted by frigid temperatures they weren’t dressed for. Thierno Diallo, 59, whose apartment was in the basement, said he smelled smoke and hurried into the street wearing only a bathrobe. “I left my cellphone there. I left without no socks, nothing.”
That night, the Red Cross set up a reception center in an area school, the Crotona International High School, which, at its peak, had 14 families, Michael de Vulpillieres, a communications officer with the Greater New York Red Cross, said. Though that center is no longer open, the Red Cross is offering help to residents via an MTA bus parked at Prospect Avenue and 187th Street. Those impacted can stop by for housing needs and also a debit card, “for basic necessities, like food and clothing,” de Vulpillieres said.
Four families required emergency housing just after the fire and were put into hotels, de Vulpillieres said, while “some spent the night at the hospital.”
Families continued to come forward on Friday, he said, with 16 registered with the Red Cross, or about 40 people total.
Esther Sakiy, 50, entered the bus on Friday, with blood stains visible on the left knee of her pants; she’d cut her leg while descending the fire escape from her fourth-floor apartment.
“I was naked. I was shocked,” Sakiy said, adding that she’d been given all the clothes she was wearing.
Matthew Igbinedion, 48, who lived on the second floor with his girlfriend, said he spent the night in a Brooklyn hotel thanks to the Red Cross.
Igbinedion walked near the building Friday, a Red Cross blanket wrapped around his shoulders — he had no hat, gloves nor coat — hoping to gain access to his home.
“I haven’t had a coat since yesterday. They won’t let me in. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do without a coat or my ID,” he said.
The Red Cross is also manning a tent, set up near the registration bus, where anyone can stop by to sign up for the nonprofit to install a smoke detector, de Vulpillieres said.
With Rajvi Desai and Michael O’Keefe
Donations of clothing for displaced residents are being accepted at Church of Saint Martin of Tours, 2239 Crotona Ave., Bronx, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. A collection site has been set up there by the Mayor's Office, NYPD, Office of Emergency Management and FDNY.