Police have released the identity of a man killed during a large blaze at a seven-story, 95-unit housing cooperative in Westchester that also injured numerous residents and first responders.
The incident took place in Yonkers around 1 a.m., Wednesday at 671 Bronx River Road.
Upon arrival, members of the Yonkers Fire and Police departments immediately began rescue, firefighting, traffic, and crowd control operations.
Residents were evacuated, and approximately 65 residents were sheltered in the Scotti Community Center north of the fire scene with the assistance of the Office of Emergency Management and other city agencies, city officials said.
- Earlier report: Fatal Fire: At Least 1 Dead After Massive Blaze Breaks Out At Yonkers Apartment Building
Fire departments from other jurisdictions assisted with mutual aid to combat the general alarm fire which was brought under control hours later.
Dozens of firefighters and several residents suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
A 67-year-old male resident of the fourth floor, identified as Michael Damiano, succumbed to injuries caused by the fire, the Yonkers PD said.
An investigation found that the fire started in a first-floor apartment, likely caused by an electric heating lamp to cultivate six marijuana plants that were for personal use, police said.
Evidence recovered at the scene and statements from the resident lead investigators to believe that the lamp detached from its hanging support and broke, sparking the fire. Upon discovering the fire, the resident proceeded to raise the alarm and alert his neighbors.
“We continue to keep the victims of this senseless fire in our prayers, especially for the fire’s sole fatality," said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. "I am proud of Yonkers first responders and city employees for their swift and courageous actions to minimize additional severe injuries or possible deaths."
Spano added that the cause of the fire only highlights the need for greater guidelines and regulations when it comes to legalized marijuana production to avoid incidents like this in the future.
The incident remains under investigation and is being reviewed by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office.
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