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FDNY Calls Bronx Apartment Fire ‘Suspicious’

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Police and fire officials investigate a fire in the Bronx, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010. (Photo/Juliet Papa)

Police and fire officials investigate a fire in the Bronx, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010. (Photo/Juliet Papa)

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NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS) — Eight people were hurt after an early morning fire tore through an apartment house in the Bronx that authorities said was illegally subdivided. Fire officials confirmed the blaze was suspicious, reports CBS 2’s Lou Young.

Amarie Rodriquez said the fire that broke out inside her sister’s home Wednesday morning was no accident. “It should have never went down like this, not with a child in the house,” said Rodriguez.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa Reports

She said her sister, 22-year-old Tashanna Staples, had gotten into an argument with someone Tuesday night. “After the fight was over I got a phone call around 3:00. She said somebody was texting her.”

Neighbors say that threats were made after the argument, and investigators are currently looking into those accounts.

“She was sending text messages and stuff, calling people saying ‘you better sleep with one eye open,’ but nobody thought she’ll come back and set the place on fire,” one neighbor  told Papa.

One man who lived on the second floor said he was awakened by screams for help before firefighters arrived at the scene.

“I smelled some smoke and just when I’m realizing what’s going on, they burst in the door and said ‘take a deep breath and follow us,'” the man said.

Pedro Suritas lives in the building and said he too believed the fire was set intentionally.

“They texted my daughter last night and told her to tell her not to go to sleep, to sleep with one eye open,” Suritas said. “They had a fight yesterday, and the girl came back this morning and she put fire on the basement door. She was trying to kill the girl that she had the fight with.”

Flames tore through the home around 6 a.m. Wednesday, trapping Staples, her 2-year-old son Ahmed, her girlfriend and her girlfriend’s brother inside their basement apartment.

“We started hollering telling them to get out of their room but nobody ever answered,” said fire victim Arthur Anderson.

“They were in there almost 10 minutes before they got out.  There was nothing nobody could do because the fire was right in front of their door,” said victim Muffin Anderson.

Firefighters were able to rescue an unconscious woman  and her baby son after battled the heavy smoke and flames overhead.

The basement was so full of smoke on Wednesday morning that it blotted out the light. Firefighter Steve Troche found the child’s mother wedged between a bed and a flaming wall.

“I felt her leg, and then I looked closer, “ Troche said. “I had my helmet light on, and when I got to about maybe a half a foot away, I was able to kind of see a face.”

It was so hot and smoky in the home that Troche couldn’t even tell there were other firefighters in the room with him – but there were. They found the baby by accident, as they tried to coordinate getting the woman out of the room.

“We were just going to take body parts,” firefighter Pete Tynan said. “I said I had the head, I was going to take the top part, and they were going to take the legs, and it just turned out the baby was in my arms.”

He and his colleagues brought the victims out to the street.  Two others in the building managed to get out as well, but suffered were badly burned.

All four were rushed to Jacobi Medical Center.

In addition to the four injured residents, there are 28 others who have been left homeless by the fire, and they’re being put up by the Red Cross.

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