Hot Plate Sparked Deadly Brooklyn Fire: FDNY

By Katherine Creag
|  Saturday, May 14, 2011  |  Updated 4:48 PM EDT
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Fatal Brooklyn Blaze

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Fatal Brooklyn Blaze

Two people are dead after a fire rips through a home in Bushwick.
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Two people are dead after a fire ripped through a rooming house in Brooklyn, trapping the victims on the top floor.

Neighbors identified the victims as a pair of middle-aged men who had lived among a group of boarders in the three-story row house in Bushwick. 

FDNY officials said Saturday that the blaze was an accident, the result of a hot plate being used in close proximity to a bed. 

Instead of calling 911 when the fire was sparked around 9:15 p.m. Friday, the occupant using the hot plate tried to smother the fire with bedding and sheets -- further spreading the flames.  

The occupant then left the room, fire officials said, leaving the door open and allowing the flames to spread to the rest of the house.   

Two people were killed. One man was trapped in a third floor room and a second victim fell from a third-story window as he tried to escape suffocating smoke.

The FDNY said each of the rooms in the boarding house appeared to have its own entrance and that it did not appear to be an illegal subdivision.  The Department of Buildings said it had three complaints against the building but inspectors were never able to gain entrance.

One 73-year-old survivor said he was nearly blind from recent eye surgery and had to feel his way to the street.

Neighbors expressed shock over the tragedy.  Barbara Hunter said the victims "were very nice people.  He was a lovely person.  Very good."

Another neighbor, Nicole McCullum, said the men were "two good souls.  Two good men of courage lost their lives."

Fire Department officials say the blaze quickly spread to two adjoining homes that also suffered severe damage.

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