A Bronx fire on Sunday (Jan 14) took the lives of a father and his daughter. Nelson Rojas, 62, and Yolanda Rojas, 14, died at the scene on the fourth floor of their building in the Throggs Neck neighborhood of the borough, The New York Daily News reports.
Allegedly the fire started because of a hot plate left next to bedding, which then caused the blaze to spread throughout the NYCHA housing complex. FDNY officials stated the fire was an accident, but they could not confirm whether or not the family lacked heat in their apartment—that would explain their use of the hot plate.
Though Aurora Rhonda, whose daughter was friends with Yolanda, did say several of the buildings at the Throggs Neck houses were not properly insulated or heated.
“I don’t even pull out my heater,” she said. “I just pull out some extra blankets. I don’t trust it.”
Neighbors of the deceased were deeply saddened by the tragic occurrence, and express their sentiments for the happening. “When you are used to seeing someone every day, he’s like family to everyone. They brought Nelson out and everyone was watching them try to resuscitate him and nothing was happening,” one witness said. “He wasn’t moving, he wasn’t saying anything. It was really hard. And when they brought his daughter out it was like, ‘OK, this is real. This is real.’”
“It’s sad, you know. They were always together. He would take his daughter to school, do what he had to do. You know he was just a good, regular guy. He didn’t bother nobody,” added neighbor Diamond Paredes. “He wasn’t out on the street. They were just a regular, ordinary family. They stayed together, they passed together, and now they’re in a better place.”
Paredes added they were a nice family, and Yolanda was a great child who did well in school. The city medical examiner’s office still hasn’t determined the exact cause of the family’s death.