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Safety Concerns Force Dozens From NYC Apt. Building

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Bronx tennants stand outside their building after safety concerns prompted FDNY officials to order an immediate evacuation. (credit: CBS 2)

Bronx tennants stand outside their building after safety concerns prompted FDNY officials to order an immediate evacuation. (credit: CBS 2)

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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.

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