Ten people miraculously escaped an all-hands fire without major injury at a four-family home in Throggs Neck.
The fire broke out at 10:15 a.m. on the second floor of the two-and-a-half-story building at 458 Revere Avenue off Dewey, on Sunday, August 7. The blaze was out by 11:13. Two firefighters and one inhabitant were taken to Jacobi Medical Center and treated for minor afflictions.
A family of four renting one of the floors, lost nearly all their personal belongings and are uninsured. As of Tuesday, August 7, the Fire Department is still investigating the cause.
“We could be planning funerals,” said building owner and resident Ariel Fernandez.
He lives on the building’s first floor and rents a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor to a family of four. The family did not respond to requests for comment.
“They’re ok, unfortunately they lost everything,” Fernandez said. “Even their pet hamster.”
Fernandez’ rented the bottom floor to his sister-in-law, and the top floor to his seven-month pregnant sister.
“We got really lucky,” said Angel Fernandez, his sister-in-law, who was sleeping when the fire broke out. “We had a great team of people who took care of everything. We lost a lot, but it’s sad that some people lost everything.”
The building is registered as a four-family. There was no evidence it had been illegally subdivided.
Councilman Jimmy Vacca said the takeaway from the incident is that renter’s insurance is an underutilized recourse.
“Most renters never think of taking insurance,” Vacca said. “These renters lost everything. I think it’s urgent and I don’t think people realize how important it is.”
Fernandez, 32, has owned the wood-frame building since 1999, and did have homeowners insurance. He said he expected to be put up in a hotel while the house is repaired. He said he was eating cereal and watching cartoons with his 11-year-old daughter, two nephews and niece when he smelled smoke.
“That’s when I saw smoke spewing out the window,” he said. “The whole stairwell was pitch black.”
He got the children out and began hurriedly notifying everyone else in the house.
“If it wasn’t for Ariel I could have been stuck in the basement apartment,” Angel Fernandez. “He came down and immediately started knocking on the door.”
She is engaged to be married on Saturday, September 17, and was able to save her wedding dress from the severely water-damaged basement apartment.
Five Bronx fire companies responded to the call. The Red Cross also arrived on the scene. It was one of six Bronx blazes the organization responded to in what was a fiery weekend for the borough.