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

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THE BRONX -

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.

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