Yonkers apartment fire caused by illegal marijuana operation leaves one dead and hundreds homeless

A fatal fire caused by an illegal marijuana growing operation in a Yonkers apartment building claims one life and leaves hundreds homeless. Learn how unregulated marijuana laws pose public safety risks in New York.
  1. An illegal marijuana growing operation caused a fatal fire in a Yonkers apartment building, leaving one person dead and hundreds homeless.
  2. The use and sale of marijuana without licenses in New York have raised public safety concerns, including risks to underage consumption, unlicensed sale, and unregulated cultivation.
  3. The tragedy highlights the need for updated regulations and guidelines to protect the public from the dangerous consequences of unlicensed marijuana cultivation and sales.

The massive fire at a Yonkers (NY) apartment building that left one dead, dozens injured, and hundreds homeless was sparked by an illegal marijuana growing operation, police announced.

An innocent 67-year-old tenant was killed by the fire that started on the second floor before burning through the upper floors of the 95-apartment “Mona Lisa Cooperative Residence” on Bronx River Road around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. The fire was likely caused by an electric heating lamp used to grow six marijuana plants that an unidentified resident kept for personal use.

“Evidence recovered at the scene and statements from the resident lead investigators to believe that the lamp became dislodged from its hanging bracket and broke, sizzled on the floor, starting the fire. Upon discovering the fire, the resident proceeded to raise the alarm and alert his neighbors,” the Yonkers Police Department said in a statement quoted by Fox News.

The unidentified fatality lived on the 4th floor of the building. The fire injured six other residents and 14 firefighters. More than 100 first responders from in and around the city were called to battle the blaze. The fire remains under investigation and is being reviewed by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office.

“The tragedy of this incident is compounded by how preventable it was. We have seen before how dangerous these high-powered devices can be without regulations or guidelines to protect the public. People are taking an unnecessary risk – marijuana laws need to be fixed, whether it’s cultivation or smoke stores; our communities demand it,” said Yonkers Fire Commissioner Chris Sapienza.

As of the end of February, there were already 36 fire deaths in New York State in 2023, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).

Since the legalization of recreational adult use of marijuana in March 2021 in New York State, new public safety challenges have arisen. Following the opening of the first legal dispensaries for its sale, another problem is the trade of cannabis and its derivatives without licenses.

According to NYPD, in addition to individual illegal suppliers, in January, more than 1,300 marijuana stores were selling the product without having a license or paying taxes, threatening the survival of those who have processed their permits. In addition, public health and safety risks are generated, and underage consumption is facilitated.

There has also been an increase in hospital emergencies related to minors who have consumed marijuana in its various forms, including candy, according to doctors, police, and parents. Whether vaping via edibles or smoking marijuana directly, experts remind us that excessive use can damage a young person’s developing brain.

Seek help:

  • Call 1.888.NYCWELL (1.888.692.9355).
  • Text “WELL” to 65173.
  • Review information at https://nycwell.cityofnewyork.us/