Grief and sadness spread throughout the Bronx area of New York City, a day later destructive fire and great smoke came up from the house on high, killing 17 people, eight of them children.
Monday survivors recalled the turmoil in which relatives and friends of the deceased experienced fear, disbelief and suffering.
“Some people do not even know that their loved ones are gone,” said Fathia Touray, whose mother and siblings lived on the third floor of the building, where the fire started.
One sister rushed him to the hospital, but he is now well, with the rest of his family fleeing, Touray told the Associated Press news agency at his home in the United Arab Emirates.
Renee Howard, 68, was moved to talk about the missing people.
“I have never been in a situation like this before. My neighbor died, the children died – I do not understand, I do not understand, “she said. All these lives, he said, were “snatched away in a moment”.
Firefighters confirmed through real evidence and accounts from residents that the fire broke out in a portable electric heater in the 19-storey Twin Parks North West, which provided affordable housing for low-income people in New York.
The house was warm and the cargo heater had heated up, they said.
The flames destroyed a small section of the house, but smoke passed through the open door of the house and turned the stairs into black traps, choked with ashes. The stairs were the only way to escape from the tallest tower to avoid the fire.
Officials say this is the fire that has killed more people in the city over the past 30 years. Mayor Eric Adams, just one week into office, said Monday morning that several people were still in critical condition.
“This is a global challenge because the Bronx and New York City represent nations and cultures around the world,” Adams told a news conference in front of the building. “This is a growing problem. An unfortunate tragedy.”
New York authorities also said the city was investigating a “maintenance case” and doors that failed to close when the fire broke out.
Adams said he had spoken with US President Joe Biden, who promised that the White House would provide “everything” needed in New York City after the fire.
The tragedy should raise questions about security in the homes of low-income people. It was the second major fire in a U.S. dormitory this week after 12 people, including eight children, were killed early Wednesday as flames erupted in a public house in Philadelphia.
Cleansers wearing white hazmat suits were spotted in the Bronx cleaning glass and trash on the streets Monday as firefighters and fire department officials continued to inspect the inside and outside of the building. The road was closed when a small group of people gathered, some bringing clothes and other donations to help the victims.
At Masjid-ur-Rahmah, the mosque next to the house, more than a dozen people gathered together. Most of the worshipers in the mosque live in the house.
About a dozen women cried inside the mosque, mourning the deaths of three young children who died in the fire. Members of the congregation were unaware that the children’s parents had survived, and many relatives feared that this would happen.
“We belong to God and we will return to God,” said the mosque’s Imam, Musa Kabba, who urged churches to remain calm while awaiting the news of their loved ones.
Many of the occupants of the houses formed a close-knit group, and soon word spread that they were going to die in smoke and fire.
“Sorry for the people who lost their children and their mothers because we are all one. And for that to happen, it would be extremely dangerous, “said Tysena Jacobs, a resident.
Mahamadou Toure tried to get the word out of the emergency room of the hospital a few hours after a fire killed his 5-year-old daughter and her teenage brother.
“Right now my heart is …,” Toure tried to tell the Daily News, before making his own decision. “Nothing. I will give it to God,” he continued.