All 17 victims of a horrific fire that tore through a Bronx apartment block have been named – as it was revealed four survivors including a baby remain on ventilators, and that multiple space heaters were to blame for the blaze.
The death toll, originally reported as 19, was revised downwards to 17 on Monday. All fatal victims died from smoke inhalation, a spokesperson for the city’s medical examiner said.
Every member of a family of five were killed in the blaze. Haji Dukary, 49, his wife Haja Dukureh, 37, and children Mustafa Dukureh, 12, Mariam Dukureh, 11, and Fatoumata Dukureh, 5, perished in the tragedy.
Fatoumata Drammeh, 50, was killed in the fire along with her three children; daughters Fatoumala, 21, and Aisha, 19, and son Mohammed, 12.
The deaths of Hagi Jawara, 41, and wife Isatou Jabbie, 31, were confirmed Monday.
Forty-three year old Fatoumata Tunkara and her son Omar Jambang, 6, were also killed.
Twenty-seven-year-old Lehman College student Sera Janneh, 5-year-old Hawa Mahamadou, 12-year-old Seydou Toure and two year-old Ousmane Konteh were the sole members of their individual families to die on Sunday.
Meanwhile, cab driver Mohamed Kamra, 58, revealed her wife Fotoumatia Fofana, 30 and children Mariam, 8, Jabu, 6, Abubakary, 3, and ten-month-old Ceesay are connected to ventilators unable to breath on their own, because of smoke inhalation.
The death toll may rise in the upcoming days, officials have warned, if any of those seriously injured by the blaze succumb to their injuries. More than 70 victims are still hospitalized, 35 with life-threatening injuries.
Despite raised concerns by surviving residents that the heating in the complex was far from ideal, investigators have said heating was not an issue in the building.
Parents Haja Dukureh, 37, and Haji Dukuray, 49 and their children were killed in the fire
Fatoumata Drammeh (pictured), 50, was killed in the fire, her sister Koumba told DailyMail.com, who said that she and her family were ‘such lovely people’. Her daughter Fatoumata, 21, pictured on the right, also died
Fatoumata’s 12-year-old son Muhammad was the youngest member of the family to lose his life in the Bronx apartment building fire. Her daughter Aisha, 19, (pictured right) also died
The uncle of the Haja Dukureh, who bears the same name as her late husband, Haji Dukary, said his family was debating between burying the five members in New York or sending them to The Gambia.
Fifty-year-old Ishak, who was working in Ohio at the time of the fire, is the sole survivor of the Drammeh family.
Ishak said he was ‘between sky and heaven,’ after the loss of his wife of 28 years, hospital worker daughter Nyumaaisha, University of Buffalo student daughter Fatoumala and son Muhammed, who had turned twelve just a day before the fire.
‘One day they are just gone and you will never see them again,’ the grieving father told the New York Post. ‘My children were lovely.’
The remains of Fatoumata Tunkara and her six-year-old son Omar will be send to The Gambia. They are survived by Tunkara’s four other children, aged 9 to 19. A GoFundMe was created to help the surviving children.
Yusupha Jawara, whose brother Hagi and sister-in-law Isatou Jabbie died on Sunday, saw his dead brother in a gurney while he helped transport victims to the hospital after the fire.
‘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,’ Jawara said Tuesday as his family began making funeral plans for their loved ones. ‘At that time, I didn’t have the focus to know that it was him.’
Isatou Jabbie, 31, and husband Hagi Jawara, 41, were confirmed dead Monday after the Bronx apartment building fire by Jawara’s brother Yusupha
Toure Seydou, 12, (left) and Mustafa Dukureh, 12, (right) died in the fire
Forty-three year old Fatoumata Tunkara(left) and her son Omar Jambang, 6, (not pictured) were killed, as well as Sarah Janneh, 27 (right)
The youngest victims, Omar Jambang, 6, Haouwa Mahamadou, 5, and Ousmane Konteh, 2, have not been pictured.
Hagi and Isatou leave behind four children, ages six to 15, who are visiting relatives in The Gambia and still don’t know their parents perished.
Tijan Janneh, 64, told DailyMail.com on Tuesday about the terrifying moment he ventured outside the 6C apartment of the Twin Park North West complex and lost sight of his daughter Sera Janneh.
‘She was a nice woman. She was very caring, helping – she listened to us,’ the distraught father-of-seven said of his daughter.
Tijan said he and his family left the apartment thinking they would have a better chance to escape the flames.
‘We had no idea. When we opened the door, we saw everybody on the floor. So everyone was trying to get [out], so we also decided to get [out].’
On Tuesday, people gathered outside the Twins Parks North West complex to honor the life of those lost, their surviving loved ones and and those holding onto their lives in hospitals.
‘Tonight is a night that we feel. We feel the broken hearted, those whose spirits have been crushed as a result of this fire,’ New York Attorney General Letitia James said.
Fotoumatia Fofana (left) and her child, ten-month-old Ceesar, right, are connected to ventilators unable to breath on their own, because of smoke inhalation, her husband said
Fatoumatia’s other children, Mariam, 8, Jabu, 6, Abubakary, 3, are also connected to ventilators
Mohamed Kamra, who lives in the 15th floor with his family, told the New York Post that he hoped his wife and four children would recover from their critical condition.
‘I thank Allah that my family made it, and I am hopeful with his continued blessing … they will make a full recovery,’ he said.
He was working as a cab driver in New Jersey on Sunday when he heard about the fire, immediately making the two-hour journey home and desperate to find about his loved ones.
‘I believe she was carrying two and the other two could walk on their own,’ Kamra told the Post. ‘I know she would put them first, she would take care of them before she takes care of herself, even if it risks her life. She would give her life for them, as I would.’
People paray during a vigil in front of a hi-rise building where seventeen people including eight children died in a fire, on January 11, 2022
Early in the investigation it was discovered that multiple space heaters were left running for days, one igniting
Vigil being held for the victims of the Bronx fire, January 11, 2022
Dozens gather outside the Twin Parks North West, where a fire broke out on Sunday and 17 died
Kamra said he was frantic after arriving to the scene and finding out that his wife and Jabu were in one hospital, while his other three children were in another.
‘Jabu moves her head up and down when you ask her questions. I said to her, ‘Jabu, I love you. Do you love Daddy?’ And she will shake her head.’
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family as they navigate their journey to recovery, as Kamra spends his time from hospital to hospital and unable to work.
The father-of-four also told the Post that he understood why the family whose apartment the fire originated at was using a space heater to keep the place warm.
‘Sometimes there’s heat, and sometimes there’s none. Sometimes some of the rooms are hot, and some are cold,’ he said. ‘It has been very cold out, and it’s understandable to keep your family warm people will use space heaters.’
Fire experts said the design of a nearly 50-year-old Bronx building and its older fire safety features likely contributed to the a blaze caused by a faulty space heater turning the complex into a smoke-filled chimney on Sunday morning
The fire at Twin Parks North West complex in the Bronx broke out in Unit 3N, where the nine-person Wague family resided. Their residence is pictured Monday, covered in ash and debris
The Wague family’s apartment is seen completely destroyed. Father Mamadou Wague said the blaze left his eight-year-old daughter trapped in her bedroom on a mattress engulfed in flames. He pulled his daughter out of the flames and managed to escape
The blaze is unit 3N was caused by a faulty space heater
The entire unit was damaged by the blaze
Investigators believe the fire was started by one of several space heaters in a third-floor unit after it was left running uninterrupted for days. Smoke then spread throughout the complex after the apartment’s entry door failed to automatically close.
On Tuesday, FDNY officials confirmed that several other apartments in the Twin Parks North West had been left running for days.
The heaters were likely older models as more modern space heaters have automatic shutoff switches that force them to stop when they get too hot. FDNY recommends people to keep their heaters three feet from furniture, curtains or other bedding.
Fire marshals are investigating why the space heater caught fire and why the code-required self-closing door that would have kept the fire from spreading to the hallways was not functioning.
Despite investigator’s findings that heating in the building appeared to be working after boilers were changed in 2015, residents of the apartment complex have said that space heaters were still needed in very cold days like that fateful Sunday morning.
Jose Dineo, who lives in the third floor with his three children, told DailyMail.com Tuesday that space heaters are necessary in the winter.
‘I feel good with the heat in my apartment,’ Dineo, 40, said. ‘We have an electric heater because before the building didn’t have good heat.’
‘Five years back the heat doesn’t work well. After three years they put in a new boiler. We feel good with the heat but still sometimes, on days like today, definitely we need to use an extra heater.’
John Jay College of Criminal Justice Associate Prof. Glenn Corbett told the New York Daily News that building management should have educated residents on how to properly use space heaters.
‘Building management should be saying, ‘Hey, folks, if you’re buying space heaters you should get the modern ones and learn how to use them properly,’ Corbett told the Daily News. ‘That’s what they should have been doing.’
Mamadou Wague said he was asleep when the fire broke out, recalling how his kids alerted him to the blaze: ‘One of the kids said, ‘”Oh, Daddy! Daddy! There’s a fire!”’
New York City’s worst fire disaster in more than 30 years that broke out on the second and third floor of a building at 333 East 181st Street in the Bronx has killed eight children and nine adults (pictured, people jump to safety from the burning building)
Some of the broken windows from a fire where a space heater caught fire and caused the devastation in the Bronx
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro claimed a door in the stairwell – which is meant to be used as an emergency exit – also failed to close, furthering the problem.
‘The stairwell was very dangerous as the door was left open and some of the floors — certainly on 15 — the door was open from the stairs to the hall and the 15th floor became quite untenable,’ Nigro said.
‘The fire was contained to the hallway just outside this two-story apartment, but the smoke travelled throughout the building and the smoke is what caused the deaths and the serious injuries,’ Nigro said during a press conference Monday.
Exclusive photographs taken by DailyMail.com reveal what remains of the family unit after the fire engulfed their duplex apartment at 333 East 181st Street, at 11am on Sunday.
Mayor Eric Adams said there may have been a ‘maintenance issue,’ as it was supposed to close automatically. He told CNN: ‘The doors in the building did have self-closing mechanisms. We are just looking at that specific door.’
However, Andrew Ansbro, president of the FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Association Union, said the 49-year-old building was poorly equipped to deal with a fire.
‘It was at a building that was built under federal guidelines way back when, so it’s not up to New York City fire codes,’ he told the New York Daily News.
It has no fire escapes and stairwells meant to be used as emergency exits quickly filled with smoke, along with floors where stairwell doors were left open.
Large, new apartment buildings in the city are required to have sprinkler systems and interior doors that swing shut automatically to contain smoke and deprive fires of oxygen, however those rules don’t apply to older buildings.
Many residents ignored the fire alarms when they went off on Sunday because they sound so frequently as false alarms.
‘First we heard the fire alarm go off. Numerous times,’ said Michael Joseph, 32, who lived on the sixth floor with his uncle. But we didn’t think nothing of it, because normally people in the building, they smoke and tend to set it off. So we thought it was probably just people playing.’
The apartment complex was purchased for $24,675,000 in 2020 by a group of investors, including Camber Property Group. Rick Gropper, a co-founder and principal at Camber, was one of the nearly 800 individuals named last month to the new mayor’s transition team.
FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro said that ‘very heavy’ fire and smoke ‘extended the entire height of the building’ and confirmed that a space heater caused the blaze. Firefighters were pictured rescuing residents from the blaze early on Sunday
Some of the items that caught on fire in apartment 3N
Mamadou Wague, who lived in Unit 3N with his wife and children, recalled how he was woken by his children screaming ‘fire’ and then found his eight-year-old daughter, Nafisha, screaming and trapped on a burning mattress in her bedroom.
‘I just grab her and run,’ the west African immigrant told the New York Times. ‘I didn’t think about anything except getting her out.’
Wague, 47, pulled his daughter from the burning bed, suffering burns to his lips and nose, and escaped the unit with his family. Nafisha sustained burns but is alive.
Fire Marshals ruled the fire ‘accidental,’ noting that it was caused by a malfunctioning space heater and that a ‘smoke alarm was present and operational’.
Officials believe the fire spread so rapidly because Mr Wague left his apartment door open as he fled for his life with his kids.
Public records show the building has open violations for cockroach and mouse infestations, lead paint and water leaks, however no structural violations were listed.
The New York Post reported there were more than two dozen violations and complaints at the building since 2013 – despite $25 million in state loans for repairs.
The Twin Parks North West complex is classified as a D1 building, according to Street Easy. The classification designates the complex as an elevator apartment building that is semi-fireproof and without stores.
D1 buildings can be found in all five boroughs of New York City and account for about 29 percent of complexes in the Bronx, Property Shark reported.
The mayor said the fire crews continued rescue measures even after running out of oxygen.
‘Their oxygen tanks were empty and they still pushed through the smoke,’ he explained, noting that icy conditions made it difficult for firefighters to put out the blaze.
The five-alarm blaze is New York City’s deadliest in three decades. President Joe Biden, speaking with Mayor Adams Monday, offered his ‘heartfelt condolences and support’ to the victims, city leaders and residents. Biden told the mayor any resources the city needs will be made available.