A couple who survived Sunday's tragic Bronx apartment fire has filed a lawsuit that accuses the landlords of knowing about "defective conditions" and not doing anything about it.
According to ABC 7, the negligence lawsuit was filed on behalf of Rosa Reyes and Felix Martinez who suffered serious injuries in the fire that killed 17 people –– including nine children –– and injured at least 63 people.
The lawsuit is seeking $1 billion in damages from the building's owners and management for failing to maintain the property –– specifically for not ensuring each apartment had self-closing doors or working smoke detectors.
The couple also claims the owners didn't make sure fire escapes where in working condition, failed to install working intercom or sprinkler systems, and did not provide adequate heat throughout the building.
NYC Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Sunday (January 9) that the fire spread to multiple floors of the 19-story building after residents inside the apartment where it started evacuated and the door was left open. Investigators say the blaze began from a space heater in a bedroom.
In a separate filing, Reyes and Martinez also sued the city Department of Buildings, accusing the agency of paying "lip service to safety issues and fire issues and are responsible for the resulting injuries and deaths."
Online, housing advocates have pointed out how tragedies like this fire disproportionately impact Black people and other people of color who are subjected to unsafe living conditions.
To help support fundraising efforts for the survivors of the fire, please click HERE.
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.