Exclusive: Bronx woman says her landlord could have taken action to prevent fire that destroyed her home

Theresa Taveras says she’s still figuring out how to put the pieces of her life back together just days after watching her apartment go up in flames.

News 12 Staff

Feb 28, 2023, 2:00 AM

Updated 473 days ago

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After losing everything in a house fire last week, a Bronx woman says that her landlord could have done more to help prevent the incident from happening in the first place.  
Theresa Taveras says she’s still figuring out how to put the pieces of her life back together just days after watching her apartment go up in flames.  
“I have 35 years here,” said Taveras. “I don’t care about the materials, I don’t care about the furniture. It’s the memories here with my family.” 
The fire broke out last Friday night. Taveras says she heard an explosion while she was watching TV and checked the rooms in her apartment before deeming everything OK.  
“In about three minutes, I smelled smoke,” said Taveras, who found the ceiling in one of her rooms up in flames.  
The FDNY has yet to confirm what sparked the fire in her apartment at 103 West 183rd Street, but Taveras claims it started from faulty wires in her bedroom wall.  
The damages in the apartment makes it so that Taveras can no longer live there. She says if the building had accessible fire extinguishers, this fire could have been prevented.  
The 68-year-old says her first instinct was to save the lives of her neighbors, adding that the smoke alarms in the five-story building never made noise.  
“Somebody was sleeping,” said Taveras. “A lot of people are sick here.” 
Jaritza Cepero says that Taveras’ knocking on her door was the only reason she and her 73-year-old mother made it out of that building with their lives.  
“If she would have fallen asleep, I think this would have been worse,” said Cepero, whose mother lives in the building. “I think a lot of fatalities would have happened.” 
Cepero says that the fire escape outside of her mother’s apartment won’t stay open long enough for them to even climb out of the apartment.  
Tenants are saying that building management has begun to make repairs, but that they want more to be done proactively to keep them safe.  
News 12 reached out to the management of the building and could not get a clear answer as to why the building’s smoke alarms allegedly did not go off, or about any plans to provide tenants with fire extinguishers in the future.  


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