A 76-year-old man killed in a late-night Bronx building fire was fondly remembered Wednesday by neighbors for his upbeat attitude and great sense of humor.
The fire was one of two deadly fires reported in the city late Tuesday. The other blaze, in Brooklyn, took the life of a veteran city correction officer.
In the Bronx blaze, Milton Barnes was found unresponsive about 10:20 p.m. in his second-floor apartment in Norwood, on Rochambeau Ave. near E. 212th St. just south of Van Cortlandt Park. He was pronounced dead at the scene, fire officials said.
“Milton was generous and cheery,” said neighbor Pamela Smith. “He made you laugh all the time, telling jokes. He would put a smile on your face if you didn’t already have one.”
Longtime friend Michael Martin was still reeling after losing his buddy in the blaze.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “We’re in shock. He can’t be gone, he was so alive. He was a very good man. Everybody in the building will say good things about him, everybody.”
According to Martin, the victim’s wife was working at Montefiore Medical Center at the time of the blaze. Barnes had worked there previously before retiring, he added.
“We were very good friends for years,” he added.
Martin’s wife, Katerina, echoed her spouse, recalling how she looked forward to seeing Barnes around the building.
“He was a good man,” she said. “He cared about people.”
Resident Vinnie Moore, who remembered Barnes as a very religious man and a “wonderful neighbor,” said the blaze caused smoke damage on several floors that forced the relocation of mentally handicapped residents living in group homes in the building.
Meanwhile, another deadly blaze in Brooklyn late Tuesday took the life of a 54-year-old correction officer.
A neighbor watched as flames roared through the two-story brick rowhouse on Rochester Ave. near Lincoln Place in Crown Heights about 10:10 p.m.
“That smoke — heavy smoke,” recalled Kevin Robinson, 60. “I didn’t know what to think, it was coming out so bad.”
Firefighters found Marion Fisher-Cassidy, 54, unconscious. She was rushed to Brookdale University Hospital, but she could not be saved.
Fisher-Cassidy was a 14-year Correction Department veteran and was currently assigned to Rikers Island’s Robert N. Davoren Complex, according to a Department of Correction spokesperson.
“This is a tragic and heartbreaking loss and Officer Fisher-Cassidy will be deeply missed at the agency,” said DOC Commissioner Louis A. Molina. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and loved ones during this trying time.”
Fisher-Cassidy lived in the home with her older sister and one of her sons, Robinson said.
“She’s taking it very hard,” Robinson said of the woman’s sister.
FDNY fire marshals were looking into the cause of both deadly fires.