Brownsville fire leaves four families without a home

According to one resident, the building does not have fire extinguishers, so she tried to throw water on the flames herself, but they kept spreading.

Greg Thompson

Apr 25, 2024, 9:57 PM

Updated 33 days ago

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Four families in Brownsville were left without a home after a fire broke out at their building on Chester Street on Thursday afternoon.
Katie Brown, who lives in the apartment where the fire started, says she was on the couch with her 5-month-old baby, when her older son walked out of the room where he was napping.
She tells News 12 her son was "talking about it's hot - burning, burning, and I didn't know what he was talking about because he just woke up, and when I went in there, his mattress and the window was on fire."
According to Brown, the building does not have fire extinguishers, so she tried to throw water on the flames herself, but they kept spreading.
"I am freaking out, there's nothing I can do about it," Brown remembered, adding that she called 911. About 10 minutes later, " it was pitch black, you couldn't see anything, smoke was going through the whole house."
Brown and the members of the other three families that live in the building and were home rushed outside. The FDNY says it took a little over an hour to get things under control.
Eventually, they were all allowed back inside, where Brown tells News 12 "it's horrible, there's nothing - everything was burnt out. The building for one was old - the whole house is totaled, it's not livable."
But somehow, thanks to Brown's son, there was not a single injury reported.
Brown says she feels lucky, because "if he didn't wake up out of his sleep, we wouldn't have known in time, because it's like we didn't smell anything. We would have been in there with the fire where we probably wouldn't have been able to get out."
Other residents like Chris Spruell, who lives on the first floor, feel similarly. Spruell says he got the call at work and rushed home to find his apartment also destroyed - but his dog Jacksie seemingly unharmed.
"I began to thank God, and that's all I can do after that," says Spruell. "I woke up not expecting this, but life can be taken for granted every day by someone else. I'm feeling blessed that everyone is OK."
Because the building's roof was broken through and the utilities were turned off, the Red Cross says they are offering hotel rooms through the weekend to all four families.
According to the FDNY, the cause of the fire is still under investigation. They state that sprinklers and fire extinguishers are only required in newly constructed buildings.


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