NEW YORK – The youngest was 2 years old. The oldest was 50. Multiple loved ones were lost by families. Students have lost friends. Fathers and mothers lost their children.
Seventeen people in the Bronx died Sunday in one of the worst New York City fires in decades after a malfunctioning space heater ignited and smoke smothered the building, authorities said.
All 17, including eight children, died from smoke inhalation, according to the city’s medical examiner. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said two self-closing doors – one at the unit where the fire started and the other at the 15th-floor stairwell – did not shut properly, allowing the smoke to spread.
The New York Police Department on Tuesday released the names of the 17 victims, including multiple members of the same families.
At a press conference Monday, Mayor Eric Adams stated that “this is a worldwide tragedy.” “All are feeling the pain we’re experiencing.”
Community members mourned the victims at a candlelight vigil at the building Tuesday. Many of the victims worshipped at the nearby Masjid-Ur-Rahmah mosque, and some were of Gambian descent.
MORE ON THE BRONX FIRESmoke from a space heater fire claimed 17 lives in a New York apartment block
Haji Dukuray, 49; Haja Dukuray, 37; and their three children, Mustapha, 12; Mariam, 11; and Fatoumata, 5, were killed in the blaze.
New York police provided a different spelling for the family’s last name; however, a GoFundMe spelled it Dukuray, and family members told The New York Times the spelling was Dukuray.
Hawa Dukuray told The New York Times by a relative that their family was close.
Haji worked at a restaurant, and Haja was a home health aide, Hawa Dukuray told the newspaper. The children were bright students, and Mustapha received high grades in school, she said. They immigrated to Gambia from their parents in 2007.
Mustapha was celebrating his birthday just hours before the fire.
How to Stay SafePrevent a house fire
Fatoumata Drammeh, 50, and her three children, Fatoumala, 21; Nyumaaisha “Aisha,” 19; and Muhammed, 12, were among the dead.
New York police provided a different spelling for Fatoumala’s name; however, a GoFundMe spelled it Fatoumala, and Ishak Drammeh, the children’s father, told the New York Post and the Times her name was Fatoumala.
Ishak Drammeh stated to the media outlets that he was in Ohio for work when the fire started.
“One day they are just gone, and you will never see them again,” he told the Post on Tuesday.
Arriving at the mosque for prayers Wednesday, Ishak Drammeh said he is thankful that another daughter survived the fire, and he hopes his son Yacub, 16, will soon be released from the hospital.
“I try to deal with it,” he said. “I try to take it from God. Every time I think of them, I pray for them.”
Are Space Heaters Safe? Experts say that even simple errors can set off a firestorm and lead to death.
Fatoumala was studying economics at the University at Buffalo and was set to graduate soon, Drammeh told the Times and the Post. Nyumaaisha said that he worked in a hospital, and was about to begin college.
Fatima Drammeh (23), who wasn’t home when the fire broke outtold the Times the family had celebrated her brother Muhammed’s 12th birthday at a trampoline park.
“We were all just jumping around, racing, we were trying to race on the obstacle courses,” she told the newspaper. “It’s a sweet memory that I have.”
Hagi Jawara and Isatou Jabbie
Hagi Jawara, 47, and his wife, Isatou Jabbie, 31, died.
Jawara’s brother, Yusupha, told The Associated Press he rushed to the scene of the fire from his home nearby to help emergency medical workers. The man sitting on the gurney seemed to be his brother.
“I was just helping the EMS transport one person to the hospital when I saw him – somebody similar like him – on a stretcher being brought to the ER,” he told the news agency. “At that time, I didn’t have the focus to know that it was him.”
SELF-CLOSING DOORS:City inspectors have previously raised concerns about self-closing doorways
He tried calling his brother and sister-in-law later in the day but never heard back. According to a GoFundMe, the couple had four children. According to police, the spelling of Hagi’s and Isatou was different on this page. The spelling was also different from what Yusupha Jawara told The Associated Press.
Yusupha Jawara told the New York Post he was making funeral arrangements and trying to figure out how to break the news to his brother’s children.
“(Jabbie) loved her kids to death,” he said. Her children were her whole life.
Fatoumata Tunkara, Omar Jambang and Ousmane Konteh
Fatoumata Tunkara, 43, was with her son Omar Jambang, 6, and nephew, Ousmane Konteh, 2, when the fire broke out, the New York Daily News reported.
Another son, Abdullaie Chan, 19, told the New York Daily News that his mother and brother were trapped on the 19th floor inside a friend’s apartment.
“I knew she was in that building, but I thought she got out in time,” Chan told the newspaper. “Calling her, calling her, more than 40 times. She didn’t pick up the phone. … I feel like she was not supposed to be there.”
Chan claimed he had three older sisters whom he is responsible for. A GoFundMe page, which said the family was from Gambia, tried to raise money to bring Tunkara and Omar’s bodies back home.
“We are heartbroken at the moment,” added Yahya Sankanu, Ousmane’s uncle and Tunkara’s cousin, in an interview with the Daily News. “We don’t know what to do.”
Ousmane was among the youngest victims of the fire.
Sera Janneh, 27, rushed to escape from her sixth floor apartment with her family, her sister Mareama told The New York Times.
Janneh collapsed, and another sister, Isatou, was hospitalized. A GoFundMe page said Isatou Janneh was intubated because of the smoke inhalation.
Mareama Janneh told the Times that Sera was a student at Lehman College in the Bronx, studying to become a social worker, and she was an active member of the Gambian Youth Organization.
Seydou Toure and Haouwa Mahamadou
Seydou Toure, 12, an eighth grader who died in the fire, was a student at Angelo Patri Middle School, next door to the apartment building, The New York Times reported.
The Times reports that Seydou’s classmates crossed the street to put up a sign board featuring Seydou’s photograph at the building.
“They wanted to do this, and for me, it’s all about what they want to do, how they want to express their emotions,” Angel Ortega, the school’s principal, told the newspaper.
Haouwa Mahamadou, 5, was Seydou’s sister and also killed in the fire. Funerals were held at Harlem’s mosque Wednesday to remember the siblings.
Contributing to The Associated Press