Deadly New York Fires Apparently Caused by Extension Cord, Space Heater

NEW YORK (AP) -- A fire that led to the weekend deaths of two veteran firefighters apparently started when sparks from an overheated extension cord ignited a mattress and bedding at a Bronx apartment, the fire department said.

The fire in the borough of Brooklyn that killed a third firefighter hours later Sunday may have been caused by combustible materials near an electric space heater, according to preliminary findings by fire marshals.

Lt. Curtis Meyran, 46, and Firefighter John Bellew, 37, died Sunday after jumping from the burning building in the Bronx. Richard Sclafani, 37, died at a hospital after being severely injured in the Brooklyn fire.

Meyran and Bellew were among six firefighters trapped while searching for people inside the building in the Bronx. All six men leaped from the fourth floor.

The four who survived remained in critical condition on Monday, the fire department said.

With the three deaths, Sunday was the deadliest day the department has seen since the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center killed 343 firefighters.

Fire department investigators will look into whether there were illegal alterations in the Bronx building that may have prevented firefighters from reaching the fire escape. The department said it also planned to continue to investigate what caused a loss of water in one of the fire hoses.

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