Happy Land Fire

A River of Tears: Happy Land


An arsonist carrying a grudge and a container of gasoline sparked the inferno that killed 87 panicstricken revelers early yesterday in an illegal Bronx social club, authorities said.

It was the deadliest fire in the city in 79 years.

The terrified victims – half of them under 25 and all dressed for a night on the town – were trapped screaming and crying in the dark, two-story Happy Land social club, which had only one working door, a small window and no fire escape.

“There was no way out; they never had a chance,” said Thomas Doyle, executive director of the Emergency Medical Service.

Police later arrested Julio Gonzalez, 36, of Buchanan Place, Bronx, and charged him with murder and arson.