Week After a Fire, Three Bodies Are Found in the Ruins of a Bronx House

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On Sept. 9, a raging blaze in an abandoned three-story house in the Bronx drew more than a hundred firefighters, took nearly three hours to bring under control and left a charred structure in place of what had been an unloved neighborhood eyesore.

That seemed to be the end of the story.

But on Monday, a demolition crew clearing the remains of the boarded-up, graffiti-splotched house at 61 Buchanan Place found a dead body around 10 a.m.

A few hours later, they found two more.

The New York Police Department said that all three of the victims - their bodies severely burned, their names and ages unknown - were men. Fire and police officials said that it was not immediately clear whether they had died in the fire, though that appeared to be the likely cause. Officials did not say where in the house the bodies were found.

How the three men may have come to be inside the derelict building appeared less mysterious, neighbors said: the house had attracted squatters for years.

"I saw people going into the basement most of the time," said Shamsun Khalique, 59, who has lived across the street for nearly 35 years. She said she would see groups of men, often intoxicated, coming and going from the house, which abuts a large apartment building on the short street on the edge of Fordham Heights. "They were, like, living there," Miss Khalique said. "They used to bring this dog outside the basement."

The building was also on the radar of local firefighters as potentially hazardous, said Frank Dwyer, a Fire Department spokesman. So when the fire broke out around 4:30 a.m. and then grew, firefighters battled it from the outside.

"When you're dealing with a vacant building, boarded up with known hazards, it's dangerous anyway - and now it's on fire," he said. "You're not going to put members in danger if there's no people known to be inside."

It is unclear where the fire began, and fire marshals and police arson investigators had been examining its cause even before the bodies were discovered. Now those efforts have been joined by Bronx detectives.

As for why the three bodies were not found immediately after the fire, Mr. Dwyer said that fire investigators had entered the house after the blaze but had not gone into every room because of structural damage.

Story provided by:  www.nytimes.com