Fire marshals are investigating three fatal fires in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens early on Monday morning, two of which have already been deemed homicides, police officials said.
Fire officials say the victim in Queens was found to be bound and gagged, while the Brooklyn victim was said to have suffered stab wounds to the neck.
A third fire in the Bronx was said to be accidental at this time, killing an elderly resident.
Police say firefighters responded to a blaze in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, at 248 Adelphi St. at about 3:20 a.m.
Upon arriving at the scene, firefighters found heavy smoke billowing from the basement into the first floor of the building.
During the incident, the FDNY pulled a man in his 50’s from the first floor vestibule of the three-story brick home and tried to revive him — however, they could not save him, FDNY sources said.
Police now say the victim, identified as Antonio Litman, 55, suffered stab wounds to the neck, so the incident is being investigated as a homicide.
Neighbors on the scene were astonished to hear Litman, had died, not from the smoke, but from the stab wounds to his neck.
One resident, identified as Joe, said Litman was a buyer and seller of cargo ships and apparently lived in the house by himself. He called him, “the mayor of Adelphi Street.”
“He was a nice man who took care of the street, cleaning and sweeping the curbs and he cared about his community,” he said.
The 55-year-old founder of Virginia’s House of Hope — a nonprofit that says it has distributed food, clothing and school supplies to more than 10,000 families.
Fire marshals were observed on the scene talking with residents and seeking video from neighbors. Damage to the house was mostly in the basement, and the upper floors of the home did not appear to be heavily charred.
While the FDNY battled the Brooklyn blaze, firefighters in Queens responded to a fire at a home located at 103-18 217th St. in Hollis — and made a gruesome discovery.
Firefighters found an unidentified man in the first floor of the home, his hands and feet bound and his mouth gagged. Police say the house was under construction at the time.
Officials say the fire went to an all-hands, but they say they didn’t believe the victim died from the fire.
The fire in the Bronx was reported at 2:30 a.m. inside of 120 Casals Place in the Bronx’s Co-Op City. Fire officials said an 85-year-old man was found “unconscious and unresponsive” inside an apartment, while a 49-year-old was discovered suffering smoke inhalation in the lobby.
Both victims were rushed to Jacobi Medical Center, where the elderly man was pronounced dead, and the woman in stable condition. Police have withheld the deceased man’s identity, pending family notification.
All three fires are under investigation by fire marshals and the NYPD. Both the Brooklyn and Queens fires have now been confirmed as “homicides.”