A 44-year-old mother of two died and three others were critically injured by a fire that tore through a Flushing apartment early Sunday morning. The deceased, Bianca Wisniewski, was due in federal court today for a hearing in her $20 million sexual-harassment lawsuit against Total Safety Consulting and JPMorgan Chase. Four of the 110 firefighters at the scene suffered minor injuries, and the fire was ultimately contained to the single apartment, because the cement and steel walls stopped it from spreading.
In July, Wisniewski filed her lawsuit against her former employer, for whom she worked as a construction-safety inspector, and JPMorgan Chase, which owned the construction site. The suit alleges that an elevator operator, Steve Greco, propositioned and groped her at the bank construction site on Park Avenue. Greco's overtures allegedly included grabbing her around the waist and cooing, "I just want to take you to dinner, no fu*king," and "Everybody kisses engineer Steve. This is a man's world, not a place for women to work." Wisniewski said that after she complained, Total Safety Consulting replaced her with a man.
FDNY sources tell the Post the fire did not appear to be arson and may have been caused by an overloaded outlet, but the Times's sources say the opposite, describing the blaze as "suspicious" and saying an investigation is pending. Wisniewski's boyfriend says she had been receiving strange phone calls, and he tells the Daily News, "I just hope they investigate carefully. Why did this happen now?" Wisniewski's 17-year-old daughter was home at the time, and was hospitalized with smoke inhalation, along with two adult male relatives. Her other teenage daughter was not home.