Early Sunday, three young children and a young father were killed by a raging fire in the Bronx — as the terrified children desperately banged on the windows screaming, “Help me, God!” their neighbors and authorities said they were shaken by what they saw.
“You could see their little hands banging on the windows,” Merlyn Persaue, 60, recalled through tears. The children were screaming, ‘Hey Allah!’ Hey Allah!’ which means, ‘Help me, God! Help me, God.’
“I see the hands in the windows, and then the flames wash up on the windows, and then there was no more sound,” the neighbor said.
Family members and neighbors identified the dead victims as three brothers, ages 10, 12 and 22.
In addition to the 22-year-old brother’s baby, a 10-month-old girl also died.
“They were trapped,” Persaue said. The three guys were running up the stairs and kicking the doors as hard as they could, but they weren’t able to open them. “They kept trying until it was too late.”
Both boys died at the scene, while their older brother and his baby were taken to the hospital, where they died.
Islaque Chowhury, 30, from Castle Hill, who lives directly up against 2165 Quimby Ave., where the fire broke out around 6 a.m., reported hearing a “woman and a little boy banging on my window. They were screaming and crying, and black smoke was coming out from behind them.”
“I opened the window, and I grabbed them both and pull them inside. What else could I do? One of those kids that plays with my niece. I looked outside, and I saw the man running around. I thought that everyone had gotten out. I could have gone down, I could have helped. I could have done more. But I didn’t know. I thought everyone had gotten out.”
There are two men, both ages 22 and 41, still hospitalized following the blaze. Several firefighters also sustained minor injuries.
There is a dramatic video showing firefighters rescuing a baby and a woman from the building. In the video, they are seen performing CPR on the woman and running with the baby to an ambulance. We don’t know if the woman and child died in the accident.
Julio Almodovar, 44, was woken up by the children screaming across the street from his home. “You could hear a girl screaming, ‘Allah! Allah!’ over and over.”
It took firefighters more than an hour to extinguish the blaze, according to FDNY Assistant Chief Kevin Brennan.
“On arrival, our units found heavy fire on the second floor … and also on the first floor,” Brennan said. “We immediately went to work removing some of the victims.”
Mayor Eric Adams told reporters at the scene that fire marshals have yet to determine the cause of the blaze.
“This is just one of those unfortunate situations,” Adams said after talking with the brothers’ father.
“It’s extremely painful. But you know, this is a block of the Yemeni community so the … community is going to rally around his family.”
According to neighbor Anwar Abdo, the family is a regular fixture in the neighborhood.
“I see them at the mosque all the time,” Abdo said.
It took more than 100 firefighters to put out the fire.