‘He was a beautiful person.’ Man found dead following house fire in Paterson

Officials say the fire started just before midnight on Sunday inside the two-family home.

Amanda Eustice

Apr 15, 2024, 4:15 PM

Updated 40 days ago

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Charred brick and boarded-up windows sit on the corner of Hamilton Avenue and East 23rd Street in the city of Paterson - the scene of a deadly house fire that killed a 62-year-old man.
"I knew 'Ranks' for a long time. I take him to work in the mornings and my son just called me and asked me if I had heard. I said, ‘No’ and he told me and said, ‘Let me drive by to see what's going on,’” said Paterson resident Sandra Fisher, "’See if it's true.’”
"I can't believe it. I just was talking to him two days ago," said Jadah Ali, of Paterson.
Officials say the fire started just before midnight on Sunday inside the two-family home. Four people who lived upstairs made it out safely. They are being helped by the Red Cross.
Paterson Fire Chief Alex Alicea says firefighters found the man's body in the basement when they were trying to put out the flames.
Alicea says he is using this tragedy to remind residents of what to do in case of a fire in or near their home.
"If you do see a fire, please immediately call 911. Don't try to gain entrance into the home and do things on your own. Advise us. Make sure your smoke detectors are operational with fresh batteries and have a clear exit in the event of an emergency," Alicea said.
Those who knew the victim say they never actually knew his real name. They just called him by nicknames. But they did say he would do anything for anyone in the community.
"It's going to put a dent, because yeah he was like the handyman around," said Fisher.
"I call him 'Star.' You know, we always called him Star. He was a beautiful person. Absolutely beautiful. Sorry for the loss. But he's going to be truly missed," Ali said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. It's still unclear if the home had any working smoke detectors.


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