From the NY Times:
There was little question that someone set fire to a federally owned walk-up apartment building in Brooklyn early Monday, killing a 17-year-old girl and injuring five others.
The questions that remain are why and who.
Investigators were still trying to determine the motive Monday evening. The building was so heavily damaged that it will have to be torn down, officials said.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development said that the building, which in March was cited by the city for dozens of violations, was among 450 troubled buildings that the agency acquired around 2004. Many required extensive repairs.
But of the 450, the department was unable to refurbish 6, including the Harrison Place building, because of difficulties with tenants, department officials said.
The agency has asked the tenants, who have not paid rent since 2004, to move so the building can be fixed. The department has offered to pay for relocation expenses, but the tenants have declined to move, officials said. Several eviction efforts were rejected in Brooklyn housing court.
Since 2004, the department has received several complaints that drugs were being dealt in the building. And the department’s contractors, including a building supervisor and an architect who was trying to develop repair plans, had been rebuffed repeatedly by tenants who would not allow them to enter their units.
In March, city officials did a “roof to basement” assessment of the building, finding 75 violations, including a dozen that were considered immediately hazardous. Among the violations were several for not having working fire and carbon monoxide detectors in apartments. A spokesman for the Fire Department said Monday evening that it was not known whether there were working fire detectors in the building.