Police Probe Dispatch Delay in Deadly Bronx Fire

There was a lag from when the 911 call came in to when the information was relayed to the fire department, police say

By Lori Bordonaro
|  Friday, Jul 12, 2013  |  Updated 10:23 PM EDT
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A rapid-moving fire in the Bronx killed the wife of Ramon Velez Jr., the son of late prominent city councilman Ramon Velez. Velez Jr., his granddaughter  and mother-in-law were also sent to the hospital. Lori Bordonaro reports.

NBC 4 New York

A rapid-moving fire in the Bronx killed the wife of Ramon Velez Jr., the son of late prominent city councilman Ramon Velez. Velez Jr., his granddaughter and mother-in-law were also sent to the hospital. Lori Bordonaro reports.

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Police say there was a dispatch delay to a Bronx apartment fire that killed a woman and injured her husband, mother and 5-year-old granddaughter early Friday.

More than five dozen firefighters and 13 units responded to the blaze at the private home shortly before 4 a.m. Ramon Velez Jr., the son of late city councilman Ramon Velez, lived there with his wife Enriqueta Velez, 55, and his mother-in-law and granddaughter, according to Bronx state senator Ruben Diaz. 

Enriqueta Velez died in the fire, which was brought under control in under an hour, officials said. 

Police said there was a lag from when the emergency call came in to when the information was relayed to the fire department dispatcher. 

By the time firefighters arrived at 326 Swinton Ave., all four family members were unconscious and in cardiac arrest. They were taken to Jacobi Hospital, where Enriqueta Velez died. 

Current protocol requires NYPD dispatchers to immediately start entering information electronically when they receive a 911 call, and to immediately conference in an FDNY dispatcher for a fire call, according to police. It appears protocol was not followed in the Bronx blaze.

Police could not say how long the delay was between the moment the 911 dispatcher received the call and the moment he or she contacted the FDNY dispatcher. It's also unclear if proper protocol could have saved the victim. 

Police said they were investigating.

Three of the victims were found in two bedrooms in the home and the fourth was found inside the front doorway, most likely because the victim was overwhelmed trying to escape the flames, fire officials said.  

Fire officials said the fire appeared to have started near the front door of the home on the second floor. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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