Today in El Diario: Bronx Family Killed in Fire May Have Been Squatters


Unhappy ending: Family killed in Bronx Apartment Fire

A Mexican couple and their son died in a Bronx apartment fire early Sunday morning, and the brother of one of the victims has now come forward to tell his side of the story, the Spanish-language daily reports.

Arturo Lucio, who is speaking exclusively with El Diario, said that his brother Manuel Lopez, wife Christina Garcia, and their son, 12 year-old Christian, perished in the blaze.

Lucio — who managed to escape the burning building with his 3 and 5 year-olds — said that his kids would often play with Christian on Sundays.

The brick apartment building — where both families lived — had recently fallen into foreclosure. And utility companies cut off electricity and gas two weeks before the fire, the paper reports. Some say the fire’s victims were squatting in the building. Lucio would not comment on their status in the building, the newspaper reports.

Neighbors, however, say that the deceased had depended on a gasoline-powered generator for several weeks — and they suspect that this might have had a role in the blaze.

“They came by foot and would bring gasoline,” Maribel Pagan, a neighbor, said.

Pagan said that the family plugged the generator in the house, but later moved it out of their immediate living space, because of the loud noise. Still, they were hooked up to electricity by means of an extension chord, she said.

“For me, this is probably what caused the fire,” Pagan said. “The house was unlivable.”

Pagan added that the family went to church on the day before their death.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 26, 2011


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