QUEENS — The fire that killed a renowned furniture designer in South Jamaica was sparked while the wheelchair-using victim was cooking breakfast inside an illegally converted basement apartment, fire officials said.
Charles Pollock, 83, died in the fire that broke out Tuesday about 7 a.m. in the basement of 115-59 157th St., where he lived and had his studio, according to the FDNY. He was pronounced dead at the scene, fire officials noted.
“It originated in his apartment and he was there alone,” an FDNY spokeswoman said, adding that Pollock left the pot on the stove for too long. Fire marshals are continuing to investigate, she said.
A vacate order has been issued for the two-family building, which was illegally converted into a four-family dwelling, a Department of Buildings spokeswoman said.
"An investigation by the department revealed the first floor was illegally converted into two apartments and the cellar level was illegally converted into an apartment," Buildings Department spokeswoman Kelly Magee said in an email. "The second floor was being used as a three-bedroom apartment."
It was unclear how many people were living in the building.
The landlord was issued violations for defective or exposed electrical wiring, an illegal gas stove in the cellar, illegal plumbing and electric work and creating an illegal apartment, the spokeswoman said.
The cause of death had not been determined as of Thursday morning, the Medical Examiner’s office said.
The designer — who in 1963 created the famed Pollock Executive Chair — moved to the apartment about 18 months ago, but once lived on the Upper West Side, a colleague said.
Last year, he introduced a new lounge chair, part of his new collection, CP Lounge, which was commissioned by Bernhardt Design.