BRONX – At least four Jamaicans were reported killed in one of the deadliest fires in New York that also claimed the lives of eight others.
Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith, said her ministry was working with the Consulate General and New York authorities to obtain further information on the situation.
Johnson Smith, who has expressed sadness at the tragic loss of life, said the ministry has been assured by the authorities that details such as the nationalities of the victims will be communicated through the usual channels as soon as they have been confirmed.
The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper quoted an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying that a statement will be issued later.
However, Ambrozia Stewart, said her daughter Karen Stewart-Francis, 37, died with her two daughters and was part of a large Jamaican family living in the building.
Stewart named the children as two-year-old Kylie Francis and seven year-old Kelly Francis, adding that her niece, 19-year-old Shawntay Young, was also killed. Her son-in-law, Holt Francis, is in hospital in a coma.
The fire inside a Prospect Avenue apartment building near the Bronx Zoo, is reported to have started on Thursday night (Dec 28) by a three and a half-year-old boy who was playing with stove burners.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told a news conference Friday that the boy’s mother was not in the kitchen when the fire started, however, she and her two children ran out of the apartment and left their door open once they realized the fire was out of control.
Nigro explained it was because the door was left open which allowed the fire to spread quickly through the corridor of the building, trapping and killing five people in a very short period of time.
Among the dead are a one-year-old girl and 63-year-old woman. Seven others died at Saint Barnabas Hospital and Jacobi Medical Center as a result of their injuries, officials say. At least 12 people escaped the fire by climbing down fire escapes and FDNY rescue ladders.
Two people remain in critical condition at Jacobi Medical Center, and one is in serious condition. Other residents of the building are still missing or unaccounted for, according to officials.
At least 175 firefighters responded to the initial call in 3 minutes, and the fire was extinguished hours later.
New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio said the fire was the deadliest in the city in 25 years. – CMC