Wakefield blaze displaces 8 families; four firefighters hurt

The second floor fire at 636 E. 235th Street started in the rear of the building early Tuesday afternoon.
Photo by Edwin Soto

A devastating blaze in Wakefield left eight families homeless and injured three firefighters last week.

According to a FDNY spokesman, on Tuesday, August 9 at 12:33 p.m., a four-alarm fire was raging at 636 E. 235th Street.

Fourty FDNY units and over 170 firefighters responded to the scene.

The second floor blaze started at the two-story home’s rear wall and spread to four neighboring buildings before being brought under control two hours later.

No civilians were injured, however three firefighters were hurt combating the blaze. There were no fatalities.

Firefighter Patrick Morello, 34, with 11 years of service, suffered heat stroke after attempting to prevent the fire’s spread on the roof. He was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center in critical, but stable condition.

Firefighter Joseph Brady, 51, with 17 years of service, suffered heat stroke and a heart attack. He was taken to Jacobi in critical, but stable condition.

Lieutenant Joseph Martorell, 54, with 26 years of service, was treated at Jacobi for serious burn injuries.

The FDNY said a fourth firefighter was injured while traveling to the scene.

Responding firefighter Sean O’Rourke, 44, with 14 years of service, suffered a critical arm injury en route from Queens to the Bronx.

At 3:44 p.m., O’Rourke’s ladder truck struck a train pillar at Westchester Avenue and Waters Place, crushing his arm between the vehicle and the pillar.

He underwent surgery at Jacobi and is receiving continued treatment.

As of Tuesday, August 16, Brady and Martorell have been released from the hospital while Morello and O’Rourke remain hospitalized, the FDNY said.

Fire marshals determined the blaze was caused by children playing with fire on a stovetop inside 636 E. 235th Street.

Michael de Vupillieres, American Red Cross New York Greater Region communications officer, said the American Red Cross provided eight displaced families consisting of 19 adults and seven children with emergency funds to help them get through the next few days.

A NYC Department of Buildings spokesman said the agency issued a full vacate order to 636 and 634 E. 235th Street and a partial vacate order to 638 E. 235th Street for the second floor and backyard.

He said 636 E. 235th Street received heavy fire and water damage to its roof and rear wall, 638 and 634 E. 235th Street sustained damage to the roof and fire and water damage throughout the building and both 632 and 630 E. 235th Street suffered minor water and fire damage.

“My office will work with the American Red Cross, Community Board 12 and the Wakefield community to see how we can help the victims in the aftermath of this devastating fire,” said Councilman Andrew Cohen.

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