February 15, 2013 at 3:04 PM
By Clarke Illmatical and Alex KratzEarlier this morning, 56-year-old Miriam Morales, a resident of 2977 Bainbridge Ave., in the Bedford Park section of the Bronx, died in her apartment after a fire broke out.
A spokesman for the fire department said they arrived at the location at 7:26 a.m. and that Morales was pronounced dead on arrival. But it wasn’t until several hours later that Morales’ body was wheeled out on a stretcher in a body bag.
Wilfredo Estrada, the building’s superintendent, said somberly, “In 30 years, I’ve never had this problem.”
The rest of the six-story building was relatively undamaged by the fire, which was isolated in Morales’s fifth-floor corner apartment. No other injuries were reported.
The NYPD Arson and Explosion Squad were on site as well as homicide investigators. The NYPD Arson and Explosion Squad said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
A next-door neighbor, who did not wish to reveal his name, said Morales, a smoker who had cancer, may have triggered the fire while smoking near her oxygen tank. “Look, she had cancer,” he said. “She was smoking near her oxygen, she blew up.”
Lisa Bolognese, who has lived in the building for two years, said she heard Morales’ smoke alarm going off at around 8 a.m. this morning, but went back to sleep. Because the fire was isolated, the building was not evacuated. Bolognese said she only found out about the death of Morales after she went outside to walk to her car around 11 a.m.
“This is drastic,” Bolognese said about the fire and death of Morales.
Bolognese added that she did not know Morales and that tenants in the building mostly kept to themselves. While there hadn’t been any problems with the building itself, she said there seemed to have been a lot of fires in the area recently. She added that local residents tended to act “irresponsibly” and be “self-serving,” unlike people in her former neighborhood in Queens.