Cold weather is often accompanied by house and apartment fires. People use space heaters, old heating systems fail when first put to the test in the fall, and the homeless sometimes start fires accidentally in their efforts to get warm. All of these scenarios can lead to fires that result in serious burns or wrongful death.
As an example, two victims suffered serious burn injuries over the weekend, one in Harlem and the other in Queens.
According to the news report, the first fire broke out at a six-story building at 151st Street and Broadway in Harlem around 8 AM on Saturday. A badly burned man was found in the basement of the building. According to witnesses, he was so badly burned and blackened that he was unrecognizable at first. His lungs were so filled with smoke that the oxygen apparatus became blackened.
The man may have been sleeping in the basement, according to residents of the building. He was an unlicensed electrician in the neighborhood who went by the name of Electro. The man was well known in the neighborhood, according to residents. He was listed in critical condition at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
The second fire occurred in Queens later the same morning. An elderly woman using a space heater was burned over 70 percent of her body. The fire began in the living room of the woman’s house, located at 104-31 205th Street in the Hollis neighborhood. She was taken to Nassau County Medical Center and was listed in critical condition.
Despite these tragedies, things are getting better for New Yorkers when it comes to fire injuries and deaths. According to the FDNY statistics, there were 25,097 structural fires in New York City in 2013. In its 2012-2013 annual report, the department was the safest in 30 years, with 66 reported fire deaths in 2011. This is 73 percent lower than the number recorded 30 years before in 1981.