'An emotional tidal wave': Belmont fire survivors recall tragedy nearly 1 year later

Posted: Updated:

Loved ones are remembering those who were lost nearly one year ago in the massive Belmont fire that killed 13 people.

The Dec. 28 fire at 2363 Prospect Ave. marked the city's deadliest fire in decades. Fire officials said an unattended 3-year-old sparked the fire by playing with stove burners.

"Hearing all the screams, that stays with you. That gives me nightmares," says Kadian Blake.

Blake and husband Gawayne Blake live on with the pain of knowing they both made it out of the building alive without five of their family members.

"It's an emotional tidal wave," says Gawayne Blake. "Even though a year has passed, we miss all the memories we had with them."

MORE: Community comes together in wake of Belmont fire

Robert Vilensky is the attorney representing 12 out of 13 of the victims' families. He and the claimants filed a lawsuit about a month and a half ago for a combined total of more than $100 million. The suit names a host of defendants, including the city, the building's landlord and management company and General Electric.

Vilensky says the stove burners that sparked the fire could be turned on too easily.

"A landlord has the responsibility to make sure those stove knobs work and that they work appropriately," he says.

Fire officials also said an open door allowed the fire to spread easily.

"There's a law on the books that goes back hundreds of years that says doors in multiple dwellings are supposed to be self-locking and self-closing," says Vilensky.

News 12 reached out to the lawyers representing the parties in the lawsuit and is awaiting comment.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."