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3 Dead, 4 Critical in Basement Fire

January 8, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ Smoke from a ceiling fire on Monday spread through a basement that apparently had been carved into sleeping cubicles for Haitian cab drivers, killing three people and critically injuring four others, authorities said.

The four injured were revived at the scene by firefighters and paramedics, just seconds before they would have died, said Lou Cafiero, spokesman for the Emergency Medical Service.

″There were bodies everywhere and they were all unconscious,″ said firefighter Glenn Clapp.

Seven other men escaped from the basement of the two-family home through a rear stairway, said fire department spokesman John Mulligan. Six firefighters suffered minor injuries, Mulligan said.

All the victims were believed to be Haitian aliens working as cab or livery drivers, Mulligan said.

Firefighters found no smoke detectors in the brick structure although a building with more than two dwellings is required to have smoke detectors, he said.

Firemen said each cubicle measured 4-feet-by-10-feet and had locks for the doors.

Vahe Tiryakian, Buildings Department spokesman, said two violations were issued for the building after the blaze, one alleging illegal occupancy of the basement and the other for erecting partitions without filing plans.

The victims, all men in their 20s or 30s, suffered from cardiac and respiratory arrest produced by smoke inhalation.Mulligan identified them as Goto Meristil, 28; Yves Noel, 29; and Moro Polynice, in his 20s.

Four of the men were ″brought back to life″ by medical technicians and firemen in front of the burning building after being pulled from the basement by firefighters, he said.

Two of the victims, Emanuel Louis, 27, and Adolph Meristil, 30, were taken to the North American Hyperbaric Center’s decompression chamber on City Island to force out carbon monoxide breathed in during the fire, Cafiero said.

They were then taken to the burn unit at Jacobi Hospital, where they were ″critical but improved″ condition.

Two other victims, David Gireau, 30, and Roosevelt LaGuerre, in his 30s, were in critical condition at Kings County Hospital. Gireau also suffered burns of the arms, face and hands.

Fire marshals said the blaze originated in the ceiling of a front room in the basement and possibly was electrical in nature.

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