By Jessica Easthope
A community shaken and in mourning came together in prayer. Calls for a thorough investigation into the deadliest fire in New York City since 1990 took a pause Monday night for Mass held at St. Simon Stock to pray for all those affected by Sunday’s tragic fire.
“There is no way for us to see and think our way through an hour such as this we now face and bring to God all those who are seriously injured and lost everything, that is why we gather this evening,” said pastor, Father Michael Kissane.
Both residents and officials are now searching for answers as to why smoke spread so rapidly through the 120-unit building. The cause of the fire was an electric space heater left on for days – Rep. Ritchie Torres says residents resort to them when buildings are kept at the legal minimum temperature.
“The lesson here is when we disinvest from housing we are putting tenants’ lives at risk,” he said.
The New York Times is reporting the FDNY said smoke from the flames on the third floor traveled up through a door that would not close to the fifteenth floor and caused what’s known as the “flue effect.” The building has a history of Housing Preservation and Development violations including violations related to fire retardant materials in the building as recently as October of last year, according to the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development.
Now the Church, through Catholic Charities of New York, is stepping up to raise awareness and offer counseling, burial services, as well as financial and housing assistance.
“Let’s walk together, let’s educate and learn what can be done at home, the value of these messages from the fire department, this is so important in the action of the Church,” said Bronx coordinator Father Eric Cruz.
Mayor Eric Adams is urging people to learn from this horrific accident.
“This painful moment can turn into a purposeful moment if we can send one simple message of closing the door,” said Mayor Adams.
Catholic Charities has begun its outreach to individual families, so far they are working with about a dozen families. Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC, which owns the building, is fully cooperating with the investigation.