NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — FDNY Fire Marshals arrested and charged three men this weekend in connection with an extra-alarm fire that ripped through six homes in the Bronx this week.
Alejandro Soler, Nabindranauth Nandalall, and Shivnarine Lauchman are charged in the five-alarm fire this past Thursday.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, several families are still homeless in the wake of the blaze, which destroyed two homes and badly damaged four others. In total, nine people were injured when the fast moving flames and dense black smoke tore through the residential block on Olmstead Avenue in the Parkchester section of the Bronx.
“They claimed they were having a fireworks fight, whatever that means,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said at the time.
Nigro says Nandalall and Lauchman — both 23-years-old — are charged with arson, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, and illegal possession of fireworks. They’re accused of literally shooting fireworks at each other as part of some kind of dangerous game in the back of the home where the flames broke out.
The Fire Marshal’s investigation confirmed the suspicion of neighbors who say they heard bottle rockets and M-80 firecrackers going off.
“Thanks to the excellent and rigorous investigative work of FDNY Fire Marshals, three individuals are charged with the reckless endangerment of Bronx residents and nearly 200 firefighters,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a news release. “This fire is a reminder that fireworks are illegal in New York City – and as witnessed in this fire can be dangerous to both firefighters and civilians alike.”
Soler, 27, was charged with illegal possession of fireworks. He claimed to have bought the devices that sparked the blaze at a large retail store in Westchester County, according to fire investigators, but fireworks are not legally for sale in Westchester County.
Lauchman’s mother admits her son was involved in the fireworks fight behind his grandmother’s house but claims he left and went to his job well before the blaze started.
“The fire went on at about 3:40 and he left for work and punched in at 3 o’clock,” Mary Abdul tells CBS2. “He grew up in that house, all of us grew up in that house, we have sentimental memories. There’s value in that home and we love that home.”
The fire broke out around 3:40 p.m. Thursday in one home at 1136 Olmstead Ave., and spread to five more 2 1/2-story homes, according to the FDNY. The blaze was raised to four alarms.
As 4th of July approaches, this case serves as a prime example of why bottle rockets and other explosives are illegal across all of New York City as well.
“Their reckless behavior caused great property damage, injury to firefighters, injury to a civilian, very serious crime,” Commissioner Nigro said Thursday.
Eight firefighters and one civilian were injured in the fire. They all were expected to recover, but the families displaced say they’re still struggling to put their lives back together.