City inspectors previously repeatedly cited The Bronx high-rise where 17 people died in a fire for failing to maintain its self-closing apartment doors — a key defense against rapidly spreading blazes.
Fire Commissioner Dan Nigro singled out malfunctioning self-closing doors during a Monday press conference as a key reason smoke from the flames quickly engulfed much of the 19-story tower in the Twin Parks Northwest complex Sunday, killing at least eight kids and nine adults.
The fire initially erupted in a duplex apartment that spans the second and third floor — and the damage from the flames was confined to that part of the building, according to Nigro.
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But Nigro said the failure of the unit’s self-closing door to properly shut allowed the toxic smoke to billow out into the hall. That failure was further compounded as at least one other broken door on higher floors allowed the toxic air to spread.
“The stairwell was very dangerous as the door was left open and some of the floors — certainly on 15 — the door was open from the stairs to the hall and the 15th floor became quite untenable,” he said.
Faulty doors had been a regular part of life for some residents at 333 East 181st St., according to city records and interviews.
Inspectors from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development cited the tower six times between 2013 and 2019 for failing to keep all of the building’s self-closing doors in working order — a problem that the landlord sometimes let languish for three years, records show. A broken self-closing door on the third floor was not fixed until 3 years after it was reported.
Two of the violations specifically mentioned problems with doors on the third and 15th floors of the building.
HPD flagged a busted self-closing door on the third floor at the entrance to the building’s northern stairwell in March 2017 — and records show it wasn’t fixed until July 2020.
Officials also discovered that the self-closing hopper doors in the trash compactor closets on the third, sixth, 12th and 15th floors were broken in March 2017, but the landlord fixed in two months, by May 2017. During fires, smoke can come up through the trash shafts.
Third-floor resident Cookie Dennis, 72, told The Post she could never remember her door ever properly shutting properly in nearly three decades she’s called the building home.
“My door doesn’t self-close and never has,” Dennis said. “I have lived here 27 years, and I don’t ever remember the door closing by itself, you have to close it yourself.”
The building was owned by real-estate mogul Rubin Schron for that time period until December 2019.
The building’s current ownership pointed out in a statement the violations were issued against the previous owner, Schron.
Representatives for Schron did not return a message seeking comment.
Original article found here.