Retired NYPD officer dies in Brooklyn fire

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A retired NYPD officer was killed in a fire that tore through a Brooklyn apartment building Monday, his devastated family said.

Firefighters discovered Joseph Newkirk, 76, in the kitchen of his second-floor apartment on Union St. near Rochester Ave. in Crown Heights after the fire broke out around 1:55 p.m., officials and family said.

Batallion Chief Tim Gimpel told reporters at the scene the smoky blaze was “pretty intense” when firefighters pulled up to the building. “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.

It took sixty members of the FDNY to knock down the flames, which were under control around 2:35 p.m., officials said. It wasn’t the first time in recent weeks the department was called to Newkirk’s apartment.

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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