Bronx Community Shows Support for Fire Relief


Public officials address the community about relief efforts in the wake of the deadly fire. (Kevin Stoltenborg/The Fordham Ram)

Public officials address the community about relief efforts in the wake of the deadly fire. (Erica Scalise/The Fordham Ram)

By Theresa Schliep and Aislinn Keely

Council Member Ritchie Torres announced the Belmont community has raised $300,000 to support the families of the victims of the Dec. 28, 2017 apartment fire. Torres’s district includes the Belmont neighborhood adjacent to the fire.

“Belmont has been shaken by the most destructive fire in years,” said Torres at a press conference outside Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. Our Lady of Mount Carmel has been active in the relief efforts.

The five-alarm apartment fire killed at least 12 people and critically injured four more, according to Mayor Bill DeBlasio. According to John Carroll, director of Public Safety, no students or staff were involved.

The FDNY responded to the fire around 7 p.m. at 2363 Prospect Avenue, blocks away from the Rose Hill campus. DeBlasio said the fire started on the first floor of the apartment building in the Belmont neighborhood and spread to the other five floors of the apartment building.

De Blasio called the fire the most deadly in at least a quarter of a century.

In response to the tragedy, $300,000 has been raised to be distributed to the families. Catholic Charities will determine the distribution of the funds, according to Torres.

“We have not been in contact with all the victims, but with most of them. And our process has been to refer them to Catholic Charities for case management,” he said.

Torres collected canned food and personal hygiene products through his office the following Saturday. “Please consider dropping off an item for our neighbors in need,” Torres tweeted along with information regarding the drive.

Michael Yu, FCRH ’16, a member of Bronx Community Board 6, asked for gently used clothing in response to the fire, according to Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university. Donations can be made through the Dorothy Day Center, according to McShane.

At the press conference, Torres announced that the office collected over a thousand donations in non-perishables and distributed to about fourteen of the families since the drive began.

Eric Phillips, press secretary for De Blasio, tweeted that displaced families can go to Crotona International High School.

Torres also addressed the issue of housing that displaced families now face. “A number of landlords have reached out to me who have vacancies in their apartment,” he said.

Torres attributed the scope of the relief efforts to partnership. “The progress that we’ve made has been the product of partnership. It’s partnership from the faith community, partnership from a social service organization, partnership from the business community and the local community,” said Torres.

A three year-old child started the fire by playing with the burners of a stove, according to De Blasio. The mother of the child left the apartment door open, which allowed the fire to spread throughout the building, according to FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro.

On the night of the fire, Torres tweeted, “@FDNY first responders are true heroes tonight and always. This is a tragedy and my office will be working to assist the families in anyway possible.”

Carroll said the university would continue to work with the 48th precinct.

In an email to the Fordham community, McShane said that Campus Ministry designated the following Sunday’s collection for the fire victims. A collection to aid all those who have been displaced was taken at all of the Masses on the first weekend after winter break.

“I urge you to donate whatever you can to help our neighbors in their hour of need,” he said.

Contributed Reporting By Erica Scalise