Woman, 77, killed in Bronx fire, building collapse following possible gas explosion

Bronx Explosion
The scene of a two-alarm fire at a residential building in the Bronx on Jan. 18, 2022. Photo credit Roger Stern/Steve Burns

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Officials identified the sole victim of Tuesday's deadly blaze in the Bronx as a 77-year-old woman, while eight others were injured, including five NYPD officers, in a building collapse sparked by an explosion.

Live On-Air
Ask Your Smart Speaker to Play W C B S Eight Eighty
WCBS Newsradio 880
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

FDNY Assistant Chief John Hodgens said the fire and building collapse was sparked by an explosion at a home on Fox Street, near Intervale Avenue, just after 11 a.m. in the Longwood neighborhood. It's sole victim was identified later as Martha Dagbasta, 77.

The home was attached to two other homes, which also suffered extensive structural damage.

Multiple People Injured in Two-Alarm Fire, Building Collapse @CitizenApp

850 Fox St 10:56:19 AM EST

Firefighters responded to the scene in just four minutes, according to Hodgens, and quickly “entered the building that were not collapsed to conduct searches.”

He said authorities discovered two sisters and another woman, who were inside the building when it exploded, lying on the ground outside the collapsed home with “traumatic injuries.”

They were transported to the hospital, where one, identified as Dagbasta, was pronounced dead.

Bronx Explosion
The scene of a two-alarm fire at a residential building in the Bronx on Jan. 18, 2022. Photo credit FDNY

The other two women, ages 82 and 68, were also hospitalized in stable condition.

Meanwhile, several police officers were transported to area hospitals to be treated for smoke inhalation, the NYPD said.

Mayor Eric Adams at a press conference called the incident “tragic” and “frightening” and praised FDNY and NYPD members for their heroic and speedy actions.

“Our hearts go out to the family members of [those] who lost their lives,” he said. “And the actions of FDNY and NYPD and residents – their quick response really allowed many that were a part of this crisis not to be seriously injured or die.”

The mayor noted that the event is particularly devastating for the Bronx, which is still struggling to recover from a massive apartment fire last week that left 17 dead and several more seriously injured.

New York City Councilman Rafael Salamanca, who posted footage of the scene to Twitter, also noted that the back-to-back fires is particularly hard for communities of the South Bronx, who experienced repeated deadly fires throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

“For many of you that know, the Bronx has always suffered – back in the 70s and 80s – from fires. And this is nothing new here in the South Bronx,” Salamanca said. “When you look around and you look at all these buildings, in the 70s and 80s, many of these buildings were burned down to the floor.”

He noted that the homes impacted by Tuesday’s explosion were part of the revitalization of the South Bronx, which he said makes the situation even more tragic for the homeowners.

Officials said the cause of the explosion is unclear, but gas has been turned off on the block for the time being. Representatives from Con Edison will also assist in the investigation.

BX Explosion
The scene of a two-alarm fire at a residential building in the Bronx on Jan. 18, 2022. Photo credit FDNY

Authorities have not confirmed if there was a gas leak, but Hodgens did say that there was at least one report of a gas smell in the area prior to the explosion.

Authorities said the investigation remains ongoing and more details will be made available in the coming days.