Firefighter: Partitions led to 'Black Sunday' deaths

Jurors in the 'Black Sunday' trial heard again Tuesday from firefighter Brendan Cawley, who survived the Bronx blaze that killed two of his colleagues in

THE BRONX - Jurors in the 'Black Sunday' trial heard again Tuesday from firefighter Brendan Cawley, who survived the Bronx blaze that killed two of his colleagues in 2005.

According to Cawley, illegal partitions that were allegedly put up inside an East 178th Street apartment led to the deaths of Lt. Curtis Meyran and firefighter John Bellew, who leaped from the fourth floor of the burning building after getting trapped inside.

"There was decades of experience up there that never found that side of the apartment, and that wall is what created that, that's why we're here today," said Cawley, explaining why he and other firefighters were forced to jump.

In other testimony at the Bronx County Hall of Justice, Fire Marshal Raymond Ott agreed with Cawley, saying that spliced copper wires running through the apartment served to provide electricity for illegal bedrooms created by the illegal partitions.

Cesar Rios, the Bronx building's landlord, and tenants Rafael Castillo and Caridad Coste have been charged with manslaughter for allegedly contributing to the deaths of Meyran and Bellew by creating illegal partitions in the building.

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