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Body Found in Building Nearly 24 Hours After Chinatown Fire Broke Out

By Heather Grossmann | April 12, 2010 9:58pm | Updated on April 13, 2010 7:13am
Firefighters found a body Monday night after a fire gutted three Grand Street apartment buildings.
Firefighters found a body Monday night after a fire gutted three Grand Street apartment buildings.
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DNAinfo/Yepoka Yeebo

By Patrick Hedlund and Heather Grossmann

DNAinfo Staff

CHINATOWN — A body was found lying in bed in the sixth-floor apartment of a Chinatown building nearly 24 hours after it was engulfed in flames, authorities at the scene said Monday evening.

Officials could not confirm the identity of the body, but earlier on Monday the FDNY said that 87-year-old resident Sing Ho of 285 Grand Street was still unaccounted for and may have been stuck in the smoldering building.

Ho's daughter watched as the FDNY used a lift to bring a stretcher to the sixth-floor of the building and then back down about 10 p.m. Monday night, 24 hours after firefighters first responded to the scene.

Local elected officials, community members and family had spent the day searching for Ho.

Ho's goddaughter, Nina Mar, reached out to DNAinfo Monday morning for help locating her godfather.

Mar said that Ho had called family members during the fire to say that he was trapped inside and that the smoke was getting heavier. Relatives told him to stay close to the ground so that he could breathe more easily.

"Nobody's coming to get me," Mar said her godfather told relatives on the phone. "No one knows I'm here."

Ho told relatives that the electricity had gone out and he couldn't see anything.

"It sounded like he was ready to give up," Mar said Ho's relatives told her about their conversations with him.

Ho's daughter went to the office of City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents the district, earlier in the day to try and find their father.

"It's really, really, very unlikely," Chin said of the chances that Ho had escaped.

The blaze that engulfed 283 and 285 Grand Street sent hundreds of people into the street, destroying nearly all of their possessions and leaving many unsure where they would sleep Monday night and beyond.

By Monday afternoon, the FDNY's investigation had to be halted after 283 and 285 Grand Street were found to be unstable. The fire caused the buildings to shake and vibrate, the Department of Buildings said in complaints issued Monday. Officials said the buildings will likely have to be torn down.

Residents of the buildings had complained several times in the past of various maintenance issues with the buildings, including a faulty and smoky boiler in December of 2009.