Bronx-born Hip-hop star Cardi B will pay the funeral costs for the 17 victims of the Jan. 9 blaze in a high-rise apartment that left others in critical condition and some without homes.
Mayor Eric Adams announced Cardi B would cover the costs, including repatriation costs for victims whose remains would be sent for burial to The Gambia, through the Mayor’s Fund, which had been collecting donations for affected families in a press release Wednesday. The fund had already raised more than $2.5 million, according to the mayor’s office.
The victims of the fire at 333 East 181st Street ranged in age from two-years-old to 50 and included parents and children, college and middle school students, and healthcare and fast food workers.
“I cannot begin to imagine the pain and anguish that the families of the victims are experiencing, but I hope that not having to worry about the costs associated with burying their loved ones will help as they move forward and heal,” the Grammy-award winning rapper said in a statement. “I send my prayers and condolences to everyone affected by this horrific tragedy.”
Hundreds of people gathered at the Islamic Cultural Center of the Bronx on Sunday to mourn fifteen of the deceased, many of whom had immigrated from the West African country of The Gambia. Two other victims, 12-year-old Seydou Toure and his 5-year-old little sister Haouwa Mohamadou had been remembered separately at a mosque in Harlem last week.
FDNY officials say the fire started when a space heater malfunctioned in an apartment on the third floor of the 19-story building. The doors didn’t close automatically, as they should have when the family in that apartment fled and thick dark clouds of smoke spread throughout the building.
People who remained in their apartments survived, but many who tried to flee were engulfed in clouds of smoke and some suffocated.
The building’s owners – a triad of investors from the LIHC Investment Group, Belveron Partners and Camber Property Group – had received multiple citations from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development for doors that failed to shut automatically, including one citation from December of 2021.