Bronx residents remember Happy Land tragedy 28 years later

Posted: Updated:
THE BRONX -

Hundreds of people took time Sunday to remember one of the city’s deadliest fires.

The Happy Land Social Club on Southern Boulevard went up in flames on March 25, 1990, killing 87 people.

A Mass was held at St. Thomas Aquinas Church Sunday, followed by a procession to the monument where there was a vigil.

Family members gathered to remember the victims.

Efrain Reyes lost his 27-year-old father, Casimiro Evo Lopez, in the fire.

"The pain is never lost, a lot of lives were damaged," Reyes said.

The event was organized by Community Board 6, which worked with several Bronx student to refurbish and prepare the memorial last week. Residents decorated the fences surrounding the memorial with flag in honor of each victim.

Julio Gonzalez was tossed from the club that night following an argument with his former girlfriend who worked there. The convicted arsonist returned looking for revenge, igniting gasoline in the social club that was not following fire safety law.

Dozens frantically tried to escape the building that had a lack of exits and alarms.

The Happy Land tragedy prompted an investigation into all active and inactive clubs across the city to make sure that none of them were operating illegally.

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