Valentine Avenue Fire Tears Families Apart

Chris Adamson with his daughter, Cashae, said people could hear the firefighters working all through the night. He lives barely a half block down from where the fire occurred.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

In a holidayseason based around families coming together, a massive fire has left many without a home.

According to a FDNY spokesman, firefighters received a call for a report of a structural fire at 2086 Valentine Avenue on Thursday, December 10 at 11:42 p.m. which spread to eight nearby three-story townhouses before being brought under control.

Firefighters were able to gain control of the raging six-alarm inferno by Friday, December 11 at 3:04 a.m.

Once the smoke cleared, a total of nine houses were significantly damaged by the late night/early morning tragedy.

Fire officials reported six of the wooden frame houses suffered fire damage, mostly on the second and third floors, while three sustained heavy smoke and FDNY activity damage.

At the time of the incident, all residents living in townhouses on the east side of Valentine Avenue between 180th and 181st streets were evacuated.

“This fire was massive and it spread very quickly,” said Dr. Bola Omotosho, Community Board 5’s chairman, who was a first responder and helped the block’s residents during the evacuation along with CB5’s district manager Xavier Rodriguez.

“It was a very unfortunate scenario – and I would like to thank the FDNY and the other first responders who were at the site and risked their own safety to help the cause and assist those who were in danger,” he said.

Omotosho, who held a meeting with Rodriguez, CB5 and the 46th Precinct the following day, said that some of the displaced families had to sleep in MTA buses and others in the 46th Precinct on the night of the occurrence.

The debris left behind after last Thursday’s fire on Valentive Avenue.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

In total, nine injuries were reported by the FDNY – which included three civilians and six fire fighters, who sustained minor injuries. There were no fatalities.

Last week’s fire caused the displacement of approximately 29 families consisting of 74 adults and 15 children, according to the FDNY, who also confirmed that the fire was the result of the careless disposal of a cigarette.

Michael de Vulpillieres, American Red Cross Greater NY Region communications officer, said the American Red Cross met with about 90 victims last Thursday and registered 29 families for assistance.

He added 20 families consisting of 51 people were provided temporary housing at hotels located in Manhattan and in the Bronx.

“The remaining displaced families have self-relocated and are currently staying with family and friends following this incident,” said Nancy Silvestri, New York City Emergency Management Department’s press secretary.

In addition to providing the victims with shelter, the American Red Cross has also provided them with emergency funds to help them get through these next few days.

NYC EMD added the American Red Cross is working with the New York City Housing Preservation and Development Department to help determine how to best match these families’ long-term living needs.

The American Red Cross and HPD are helping to connect these families with community agencies and local elected officials such as Councilman Ritchie Torres, Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblyman Victor Pichardo for assistance.

“Ninety percent of the American Red Cross’ workforce are volunteers who gave their time and service to aid these displaced families,” de Vulpillieres said.

The devastation from last Thursday’s fire on Valentine Avenue could be seen far and wide.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

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