Brooklyn, NY

Retired NYPD officer dies in Brooklyn fire

Photo byGardener Anderson

A Brooklyn apartment building caught fire on Monday, killing a veteran NYPD cop, according to his heartbroken family.

After the fire started at 1:55 p.m. on Union St. near Rochester Ave. in Crown Heights, firefighters found Joseph Newkirk, 76, in the kitchen, according to officials and family.

When firemen arrived at the structure, the smokey fire was "quite hot," according to batallion chief Tim Gimpel.

“The guys put the fire out pretty quick, but when we just searched the apartment, there was a victim in the apartment,” said Gimpel. “Unfortunately, the victim succumbed to their injuries.”

Newkirk was already dead when firefighters got to him.

FDNY officials said the fire started on the third floor of the six-story building, prompting tenants to race to the safety of the street.

Neighbor Paul Wilson, 65, escaped the flames with his 10-month-old stepdaughter.

 “She was my first priority,” Wilson said. “When I was standing [outside], I saw the fire coming from the window.”

Water that firefighters used to douse the flames destroyed Wilson’s apartment.

“All of my apartment is damaged,” he said.

It took 60 members of the FDNY to knock down the flames, which were under control by around 2:35 p.m., officials said.

It wasn’t the first time in recent weeks the department was called to Newkirk’s apartment.

A neighbor told the Daily News that Newkirk’s wife called 911 after he locked her out and couldn’t hear her trying to get in.

“She was banging on the door,” said the neighbor, who did not want to be named. “She thought something was wrong.”

The Fire Department knocked down Newkirk’s door to find the man was safe, the neighbor said.

The man’s rattled nephew paced the street outside the building later Monday afternoon. He told a News reporter his uncle was “elderly and sickly.”

“He’s a veteran, a retired police officer,” said Newkirk’s nephew.

FDNY fire marshals are still looking into the cause of the fire.

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