Gounardes, Bruno Politicize Dyker Heights Fire

Screen Shot 2020-07-10 at 5.40.29 PM

As the race for control of New York’s 22nd Senate District heats up, incumbent Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park) and his challenger, former night club owner Vito Bruno (R) have begun sparring over an unexpected issue: a house fire in Dyker Heights.

The Saturday night fire began at 1330 74th Street and 13th Avenue before spreading to two attached buildings. Twelve of the over 200 firefighters who worked to extinguish it were injured in the inferno. No fatalities occurred. As of Monday night, the FDNY is still investigating the cause of the fire.

Vito Bruno
Vito Bruno
State Senator Andrew Gounardes
State Senator Andrew Gounardes

Despite this uncertainty, provocateurs involved in the senate race have begun hatching their own theories and claims about it. In several Facebook and Twitter posts, Bruno campaign volunteer Raymond Ranaletta alleged foul play from Antifa for the fire. “If politics doesn’t influence the results of fingerprints when they are done examining this arson we will see who the facts lead 2,” tweeted Ranaletta.

“Right now to the best of my recollection police reports were taking days b4 of someone threatening to light a house on fire in Dyker days b4 [sic],” he tweeted.

In response to Ranaletta’s posts, Gounardes took to Twitter to grill the conspiracy theories. “HUMANITY. Last night we had a bad fire in Dyker Heights. Families displaced. Firefighters injured. Ppl helping how they can,” he wrote.

“The local GOP/Conservative apparatchiks are vilely accusing Democrats of intentionally starting the fire. When ppl show you who they are, believe them.”

In response, Bruno denied Gounardes’ allegations about Ranaletta’s posts, deflecting with an accusation that the senator was dismissive of the district’s more conservative residents.

“Andrew Gounardes owes an apology to our community once again. No official from the Republican or Conservative party accused Democrats of starting the fire, without any evidence,” he said.

 “Sen. Gounardes is again making unsubstantiated claims that are divisive and hurtful to residents of this community. There is no such thing as a Democratic fire or a Republican fire. This terrible fire did considerable damage but could have been worse and I’m grateful that no one was seriously hurt, it is times like this where we need to come together as friends and neighbors and keep politics out of it.”

Bruno continued, alleging his opponent attacked the work of the NYPD’s 68th Precinct, which patrols the district and cited some troubling behavior from counter-protestors to a pro-police rally in Bay Ridge. “A couple of months ago when a diverse group of people met in Bay Ridge to express their support for the New York City Police Department near the 68th Precinct, they were met by a couple of hundred ANTIFA protesters who committed disgusting acts of violence against the Pro-Police group. Vomit was thrown on several people including Senator Marty Golden and myself. Seniors were attacked, and there is even video of one of them telling a young Muslim mother that he hopes her kids get COVID while making an obscene gesture,” he recalled.

 “I believe that young woman was also the same person whose American Flag was stolen and then burned in celebration. It is only through the dedication, professionalism, and preparation of the 68th Precinct that a riot was prevented where hundreds of people would have been seriously hurt. Instead of waiting for the facts to come out, Senator Gounardes issued a statement indicating that the people from the Pro-Police demonstration were racists and that the 68th Precinct was incompetent. Gounardes promised an inquiry and said nothing after that.”

Still, a Gounardes spokesperson decried the mudslinging and urged sympathy for the victims of the fire. “With Mr. Bruno, it’s all lies and vitriol, no plans for our community. Senator Gounardes was on the scene dealing with families affected. Keep the focus where it belongs – on those who lost everything – and let’s rally around them as a community to help them rebuild,” said the spokesperson. 


More from Around New York