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Deadly Bronx fire blamed on candles

by New York Times News Service on October 26, 2013 3:00 PM

By MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ and ALEX VADUKUL

NEW YORK — A fire in the Bronx on Friday evening that killed three children was caused by candles that were apparently being used for light after power to the apartment was cut off because of unpaid bills, the authorities said Saturday.

Three brothers, Elijah Artis, 5, Jeremiah Artis, 2, and Michael Turner, 4 months, were killed in the blaze, according to the police. Two other siblings, a 4-year-old and 4-month-old, Michael’s twin — and the children’s mother, 25, were treated for smoke inhalation, the police added.

The two surviving children, both girls, were listed in stable condition Saturday at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, Nydia Negron, a hospital spokeswoman, said.

The children’s mother, who was not immediately identified, was treated and released.

Six other people were injured but did not seek treatment at the hospital, the Fire Department said.

The fire erupted inside the family’s apartment just before 8 p.m. Friday. A Fire Department spokesman said candles placed in the kitchen caused the blaze, but he was unable to provide more specific information.

Allan Drury, a spokesman for Consolidated Edison, said power to the apartment had been cut off Thursday over delinquent payments. Neighbors said the family had been using candles for light.

Drury added that Con Edison typically tries to avoid turning off power, instead putting customers on payment plans. This particular family, it seemed, fell too far behind.

“There was significant amount of arrears on the account — well into the thousands of dollars,” Drury said.

At the apartment building Saturday, workers boarded up windows and vacuumed shattered glass.

The street below was blocked with yellow police tape. A Red Cross volunteer said 19 residents had been moved to emergency housing.

Outside the six-story building, neighbors had erected a small memorial with a brown teddy bear and candles.

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