EYEAFRICA TV: New York, USA: Victims of the January 2022 Bronx fire disaster have received a 100,000 dollars support from the government of The Gambia, the country’s embassy in the United States of America and the Permanent Mission of The Gambia to the United Nations in New York confirmed yesterday.
In a Thursday statement, the embassy said the government allocated fund was distributed amongst the victims of the disaster that claimed seventeen lives; fifteen of which were Gambians.
In concert with the Gambian community leaders, the statement says a distribution formula was designed which allocated Two Thousand Dollars ($2000.00) to each deceased person and altogether, the representatives of the fifteen deceased persons received thirty thousand dollars, whilst the remaining seventy thousand dollars was shared amongst the rest of the surviving victims through their families or household representatives. A total of 103 survivors are said to have received $679.61 each amounting to $70,000.00.
Gambia’s ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations in New York, Lang Yabou, said the circumstance that led to the distribution meeting is an undesired one, noting that worldly ephemeral material cannot be equated to human life because it is sacrosanct. He prayed for Allah’s mercy on the departed souls.
On the morning of January 9, 2022, the high-rise fire killed seventeen people, including eight children, at the Twin Parks North West, Site 4, apartment building in the Bronx, New York City. Forty-four people were injured, and thirty-two with life-threatening injuries were sent to five different borough hospitals and fifteen were in critical condition the day after the fire.
It was the third-worst residential fire in the United States in four decades, and the deadliest fire in New York City since the Happy Land nightclub fire, which occurred nearby in 1990. The Bronx fire was also the second major residential fire in the Northeastern United States within a one-week period, occurring four days after a fire in Philadelphia public housing resulted in 12 deaths.
Ambassador Yabou explained that previous meetings and consultations with families of victims were all geared towards ensuring that no member of victims’ families is left behind, saying accountability is an integral part of good governance that brought the need to ensure that every victim gets his or her fair share of the funds. He said as government representatives, accountability and transparency are key to their work.
He recognised the efforts of the staff of the Permanent Mission as well as the collaboration and support given by The Gambia Embassy in Washington, D.C, the 2 Mosques, Gambia Youth Organisation and Elders in generating an all-inclusive data concerning the victims and families. He also reiterated that the involvement and presence of the Embassy in Washington, D.C. is important as the welfare of every Gambian in the United States falls squarely under the Embassy.
Following the fire disaster, investigators determined that it was caused by a defective space heater bursting into flames. Smoke spread through the building as a result of two malfunctioning self-closing doors, causing deaths throughout the building. The fire was largely confined to one apartment; all of the persons killed in the fire died from smoke inhalation, while a dozen critically injured people were badly burned.
Honorary Consul-Designate, Ebou Cham commended the entire Gambian community for the cordial working relations he had with them since the incident broke out.
The 19-story residential building contains a total of 120 apartments. It is located on 333 East 181st Street near Tiebout Avenue. It is in the central Bronx, and part of the western segment of a “scatter-site” development project spanning the Fordham, Tremont and East Tremont neighborhoods. It was built in 1972 as part of a state program to provide affordable housing. Twin Parks won architectural awards and was widely hailed at the time as the “cutting edge of urban design”,though it failed to live up to its initial promise.
Sheikh Musa Drammeh, a community leader, who spoke on behalf of the community, said the amount given does not matter but the gesture which meant a lot to them. He thanked the staff of the Mission in New York and the Embassy in DC for the collaboration and support since the incident happened. He said the support was overwhelming and expressed gratitude and assured that as a community, they will continue to support and defend the Government and its officials.
In 1977, the New York Daily News reported that Urban Development Corporation buildings, including the building that was the site of the 2022 fire, had inferior electrical wiring that could pose a fire hazard. The source of the problem was that under its mandate from the state, the UDC was not subject to building codes and other municipal regulations, and could issue its own certificates of occupancy. Inspectors with the Board of Fire Underwriters found “building violations of an electrical nature” at 333 East 181st Street, and another building at Twin Parks, along with other UDC properties.