Safety Concerns Force Dozens From NYC Apt. Building

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Dozens of families are out of their homes after the fire department shut down a section of their apartment building.

Firefighters discovered a potential deathtrap at the building in the High Bridge section of the Bronx, and ordered an evacuation, reports CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.

The problem is causing tons of frustration for Lucy Sanchez and her family, who’ve been forced out into the cold – and into a Red Cross shelter – after their apartment building at 1204 Shakespeare Avenue was suddenly evacuated.

“This building is so messed up,” Sanchez said. “They’re fixing stuff, but things don’t really get fixed correctly.”

The fire department had a similar story after showing up on reports of a gas leak. Responding to that call, officials found construction debris piled up and blocking two critical fire escapes leading to one main exit for the back of the building.

Of the building’s 67 apartments, 24 were ordered cleared with only an hour’s notice.

Ricci Cruz was one of the lucky tenants who weren’t forced from their homes.

“They told me, ‘no, you don’t have to leave, your side is good, the back side is bad,’” Cruz said.

Residents are supposed to be able to pass through the blocked exit underneath the building so they can get out in an emergency, and the FDNY said until the debris is cleaned and the passageway is clear, the back end of the building is off-limits.

What’s worse for the Sanchez family and other evacuees is that they were forced to leave their pets behind. The Red Cross won’t allow pets in the shelter, citing liability concerns, so Tigger – the Sanchez family’s pet Yorkie – had to stay home.

“They say I can’t stay in there, but he can stay in there, and I’m wondering why he can stay in there,” Sanchez said.

“If it’s so serious, we should take our dog too,” Nelson Sanchez said.

The FDNY said the earliest the building would be fully reopened is Monday.

  • tm

    i live in the building and if you were here when they was telling us what could happen if something goes wrong you would want to take every thing you love so trust me shes has the right to take tiger i see this lady like every day and we all have pets in this building.and were still in the messed as building as i type the only thing they left was a cop car wit one cop at least its something but still i dont wanna blow up i nmy sleep

  • otto

    I understand the Red Cross’ position on pets – it makes total sense. But it is still a shame to separate a pet from a family … most times the pet is as much a part of the family as anyone else. These are tough times and we do understand the reality of what must be done … but it is still sad.

    Hopefully the families and pets will be reunited in short order … and have a very happy holiday !!!!

  • Mary

    I am a Red Cross volunteer. It hurts to not be able to take pets–but even the sweetest-tempered animal can behave unpredictably during a stressful event, in an unfamiliar environment. What happens if the pet bites a child, or causes a life-threatening allergic reaction in a sick person? Shelters are not purpose-built buildings, and have to be adapted on little or no notice by on-call volunteers (and _everyone_ who spent up to 15 hours yesterday was a volunteer), and setting up a kennel is not possible. This is why the Red Cross does preparedness education–so that _every_ family has a plan for themselves and pets.

    No one is forced to come to a Red Cross shelter–in fact, people are urged to stay with friends or families. (How anyone can compare a short-term evacuation to Katrina baffles me, as well.)

    If you don’t like how the Red Cross–or any other voluntary agency–works, make the commitment of time and effort to join, learn, and help improve it.

  • musa ibrahim

    Humans first, then some pets.

  • Frank Rodriguez III

    Animals are not the issue here people. Let’s get priorities straight. The issue is lack of affordable housing for low income renters, substandard housing and owners who put people’s lives at risk. Though they may look livable, many of these buildings should have been condemned years ago. The City knows this! So all you great minds out there fill in the blanks..

  • Roman Psy


  • Eugene

    Iam sorry for saying that and I apologize to them, but this animal’s right issue is going to far.

  • Eugene

    Yo take the rats as well

  • C Schein

    I wouldn’t leave without my pets. And I would dare them to forcibly take me out. Red Cross is heartless.

  • alice howe

    The Red Cross strikes again..have they learned nothing since Katrina. Pets are part of the family……..
    I was in NOLA after Katrina and saw the Red Cross take undue credit over and over again. I’m sure they’ll do it again.

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