On Wednesday, a fast-moving fire engulfed an apartment building in Harlem and claimed the lives of a family of six as they slept, the NY Daily News reports.
Fire officials said a fire alarm may have been disabled and the FDNY has determined the deadly fire appears to have been caused by a burning stove that was left unattended.
The victims include mom Andrea Pollidore, 45, her 32-year-old stepson, Matt Abdularauph, and four of her children, the youngest aged 3, who lived in a three-bedroom apartment on the fifth floor of the Frederick E. Samuel Houses at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. and W. 142nd St., according to the outlet.
The tragic deaths have shocked friends and family shocked leaving them at a loss for words.
“He was smart, a quick learner,” said the 3-year-old Elijah’s dad Jean Belot after hearing about the terrible blaze.
“I’m not in a good state of mind.”
Elijah’s 11-year-old sister, Nakaira; 6-year-old sister, Brooklyn; and 8-year-old brother, Andre, also died in the fire, according to family friends.
Fire officials found all six dead inside two bedrooms, which was cut off from the exit route and a fire escape, officials said.
A neighbor Claudette Grant, 33, who escaped, recalled the horrific scene.
“I heard glass shattering,” said Grant who lives a floor below the family.
“Then I heard kids screaming, ‘Help, there’s a fire, there’s a fire!’ I went out to try to look out the window but before I could get to my living room my neighbors were knocking on the door saying, ‘Everybody get out of the building, get out of the building!’ I woke everyone up, I got my baby, and we went outside.”
“I used to see her picking the kids up from school,” she said of Pollidore. “I’d see them at the store. She was a giving mother. She would see me with my toddler and she’d be like, ‘How old is your baby? I have clothes for him.’ … I thought she was caring.”
Pollidore’s 27-year-old daughter, Raven Reyes, was not in the building.
“I’m one of my mom’s oldest kids,” Reyes said. “All my little brothers and sisters, my mom, and even my stepbrother passed away. They were all good people. My little brothers and sisters, they just were perfect. They were amazing.”
“I met him when I was like 16,” she said of stepbrother Abdularauph. “He’s been in my life ever since — even though my mom and his dad got separated. He’s always been around. He lived there, too.
“I wish this didn’t happen. It’s just unbelievable,” she added. “I just want them to know that I love them so much.”
The family’s immeasurable loss has then struggling to figure out how to bury six people at once.
“It’s too expensive to bury two adults and four babies,” said Pallidore’s dad, Kenrick Dennie, 67. “We’re doing all we can. It’s not easy.”
A GoFundMe is being set up to assist the family with funeral costs.