READY TO ROLL AT PATERSON RIVERSIDE STATION - PHOTO BY DR. THOMAS DAYSPRING

READY TO ROLL AT PATERSON RIVERSIDE STATION - PHOTO BY DR. THOMAS DAYSPRING

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

87-89 PARK AVE. - 1981

UPDATED SEPT. 2016


Photo: Paterson Retired Firefighters Faceboo


Oct. 15,1981
87-89 Park Ave.
Box 11 - 4 Alarms


PATERSON, N.J. -- 
A gasoline-fed fire police say was set by a man spurned by a woman tenant swept through an apartment house early Thursday, killing eight people and injuring 17.

Leonides Garcia, 37, an unemployed laborer, was arrested and charged with homicide, aggravated assault and arson in the torching of a brick tenement near downtown Paterson.

A municipal judge ordered Garcia held on $100,000 bail.

The victims were discovered by firemen searching the rubble of the burned-out, four-story brick building hours after the flames were extinguished.


Edwin Perez, 34, his wife Irene, 38, and their three children - Alejandro, 5, Carmen, 10, and Edwin Ramon, 11 -- were found in their fourth-floor apartment along with the woman's brother-in-law, Luis Alberto Perez, 23. All had been killed by smoke.

A municipal judge ordered Garcia held on $100,000 bail.

The victims were discovered by firemen searching the rubble of the burned-out, four-story brick building hours after the flames were extinguished.

Edwin Perez, 34, his wife Irene, 38, and their three children - Alejandro, 5, Carmen, 10, and Edwin Ramon, 11 -- were found in their fourth-floor apartment along with the woman's brother-in-law, Luis Alberto Perez, 23. All had been killed by smoke.

Gloria Hendley, 26, was pulled from debris that had collapsed on her third-floor apartment. Ramon Diaz, 56, died in his second-floor apartment.

Fire Chief Harold Kane said a crane was brought in to 'pick apart that building piece by piece' and make sure there were no other victims.

Garcia was accused of dousing the first floor of the building with gasoline and setting it ablaze shortly before 3 a.m.

Investigators said Garcia 'assumed' he had a relationship 'or wanted one' with a woman tenant in the building, but the woman, Mercedes Nosamo, repeatedly spurned him. She was not hurt in the fire.

It was the woman's brother, Juan Santiago, who told police he smelled gasoline and saw Garcia through the door peephole pouring the fuel moments before the building went up in flames. Garcia was later arrested nearby at the nearby home he shared with his mother.

The blaze spread quickly, forcing six residents to jump to the street as it engulfed the upper floors, spread to the adjacent building, and collapsed both roofs.

During the effort to extinguish the fire, a firefighter rescued four members of a family trapped by the thick smoke and flames.

'He saved four people's lives. The guy was fantastic,' Fire Chief Harold Kane said of Elliot McGuire, a member of Engine Company No. 2.

McGuire climbed a fire ladder to a third-floor front window and dragged out a 10-year-old boy, an hysterical woman and a man in three separate trips.

Five residents were admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital for burns, smoke inhalation and fractures. One, Angel Soto, 33, was transferred to the burn care unit at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston in 'critical condition' suffering from multiple trauma caused by burns over 30 percent of his body.

Only one of the five tenants taken to Barnert Memorial Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation was admitted, and two of the seven treated for burns at Greater Paterson General Hospital were held for observation.