Western Brooklyn

After Two Years, Miguel Chan Still Haunted By His Wife’s Death

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Fire escapes could have saved Luisa Chan's life. (Source: cookipediachef via Flickr)

While Bensonhurst may not display many signs of the so-called “culture of poverty,” there still exists another, more cutthroat side to a neighborhood with so many strong points.

Illegally subdivided apartments are something that most of us don’t think about, as it’s not a part of our everyday lives. For day laborers like Miguel Chan however, it’s an inescapable fact for both him and his two small children that two years ago, a lack of fire escapes in their building helped a raging fire take a wife and mother from their lives forever.

Whether the actual cause of the fire was arson by one of the eight men living on the second floor of 2033 86th Street (ironically, the same man credited with saving Chan’s son is accused of setting the fire) or from some freak accident is irrelevant.

Chan told the Daily News that while he can’t forgive the alleged arsonist, he also has trouble reflecting on the circumstances surrounding the loss of his wife.

“He still left a great damage to this family,” Chan said. “I just can’t think about right now.”

It’s irrelevant because Luisa Ordoñez Chan, age 34, died – along with four others – in a fire, and even a thousand years of prison for the culprit cannot bring her back from a preventable death.

What do you think should be done about the problem of illegal apartments? Do you think a shortage of affordable housing is to blame?

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