Fat Joe has started a relief fund for the victims of the devastating apartment fire in his hometown. The deadly fire that happened on Sunday (Jan. 9) in the Bronx left 17 people dead and many more injured and in need of resources and shelter. According to a press release, the “Lean Back” rapper made his own contribution as well as secured donations from Jay-Z and DJ Khaled.
“I need all my people world wide to come together for the families devastated by the fire in the Bronx,” he wrote on Instagram. “I’m donating and I’m asking everyone that has a Heart to donate. these people are mostly immigrants that have no where to go they lost everything. it’s 10 degrees in the Bronx today! WE NEED YOUR HELP.”
According to the New York Times, a space heater being used to keep a residence warm during the cold winter weather was the cause of the fatal fire. Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro shared his belief the fire began in an apartment bedroom.
“The door to that apartment, unfortunately, when the residents left, was left open. It did not close by itself,” he stated. “The smoke spread throughout the building, thus the tremendous loss of life and other people fighting for their lives right now in hospitals all over the Bronx.”
The Associated Press reported Mayor Eric Adams called it an “unspeakable tragedy” at a news conference near the scene Monday (Jan 10.)
“This tragedy is not going to define us,” Adams said. “It is going to show our resiliency.”
NYT reported the building was owned by a group of investors including LIHC Investment Group, Belveron Partners, and Camber Property Group. Camber Property Group operates most of the affordable housing properties in New York City. The company’s co-founder, Rick Gropper, was named as a member of Mayor Adams’s transition team for housing issues before Mr. Adams took office this month.
“We are devastated by the unimaginable loss of life caused by this profound tragedy,” the property owners said in a statement according to NYT. “We are cooperating fully with the Fire Department and other city agencies as they investigate its cause, and we are doing all we can to assist our residents. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives or were injured, and we are here to support them as we recover from this horrific fire.”
According to CNN, all 17 victims died from smoke inhalation. Their ages ranged from a 2-year-old boy to a 50-year-old adult, and include two 5-year-old girls and a 6-year-old boy. Tenants and relatives of the victims of the fire have filed a class-action lawsuit against the current and previous owners of the building seeking $2 billion in damages. 22 plaintiffs are represented by Attorney Robert Vilensky, who expects the number to grow.
The lawsuit claims the building owners were negligent and did not ensure smoke detectors worked, failed to provide adequate heat, and failed to have an intercom or sprinkler system.
“This was a horrific tragedy and too many lives were lost. There is an active investigation into this tragic incident. We’ll review the claim,” said New York City Law Department press secretary Nicholas Paolucci to CNN.
One hundred percent of all donations to Fat Joe’s fund will help families and enable the distribution of emergency supplies for those in need.