By Juan Soto
Three members of a Haitian family died when a fire broke out in their Corona apartment as they were preparing a traditional meal to celebrate New Year’s Eve, authorities said.
Fire officials were investigating the cause of the blaze, but it appears the fire was started by an unattended soup on a stove.
A FDNY spokesman said the fire broke out about 11:46 p.m. on the ninth floor of a 18-story building in LeFrak City. The blaze was declared under control at 1:07 a.m.
A total of 106 firefighters battled the deadly fire. According to the FDNY, one of the firefighters suffered minor injuries. Seven civilians sustained injuries.
Killed in the blaze, police said, were Louise Jean-Charles, 59; her husband Napoleon Michel, 69; and cousin Nadia Donnay, 37.
Jean-Charles, Napoleon and Donnay were taken to area hospitals, where they were pronounced dead.
A spokeswoman for LeFrak said in a statement, “Our deepest condolences go out to the families of those affected. We are working with the fire marshal to determine the cause of this incident.”
She added that the building had no fire code violations and that the apartment were the blaze broke put “was outfitted with smoke detectors as required by law. A smoke detector rider attesting to the presence of this life safety equipment was signed and initialed by the tenant in 2012.”
City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) said there was no working smoke detector in the apartment where the blaze broke out.
“It is beyond tragic to have lost this family because they did not have something as basic as a smoke alarm in their home,” Ferreras said. “They were preparing for a new year gathering and should have been alive to see 2015.”
The lawmaker said that in the next weeks, she will arrange fire prevention education for the complex’s tenants in collaboration with LeFrak management.