A fire destroyed a wooden-frame home in Queens Village, killing five people, including three children on Sunday afternoon. "People were screaming, 'Get them out.' The whole sky was black. There was a lot of smoke. The fire was very bad. The firefighters carried some of the children out. They were limp. The whole house was on fire," a witness recounted to the Daily News.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said, "At approximately 2:36 pm we received a call from a passing motorist who saw a fire on the first and second floor of this home"— at 112-16 208th Street—"and saw someone come to the window at the second floor and tumble out from that window out onto [a porch roof] and onto the lawn." Firefighters arrived about four minutes later, but the home was "completely consumed with fire," he explained. "They valiantly pushed in behind the hose lines. Unfortunately, they recovered all the people from there. None of the five people in the home survived. It’s a terrible, tragic loss."
The victims were a two-year-old boy; a 10-year-old boy; a 16-year-old girl; a 17-year-old girl; and a 20-year-old woman. "Their names have not been released, but officials said they are all from the same family," reports DNAinfo, which spoke to a witness who saw the only survivor escape from the home:
"All I saw was him on the roof, and then the next thing, he jumped," Zedias Mudzimba, 56, said. He drove by the fire and called 911 after seeing flames shooting from the first and second floor of the wood-frame home.
The man looked uninjured from the leap, and was yelling "that's my grandson, that's my grandson," Mudzimba said.
Some of the victims were reportedly in the attic at the time of the fire. WABC 7 spotted some people, apparently relatives, allegedly arguing about who was supposed to be home. One man was escorted away in handcuffs:
Fire marshals are investigating the cause of the blaze. Police sources told the NY Post it may have started after a car parked in an alley between two houses caught fire. Nigro told reporters, "These homes were built 97 years ago. They’re wooden-frame homes and they are—they burn rapidly."
Mayor Bill de Blasio was also at the scene, talking to shocked neighbors. "This is a very, very sad day for people here in Queens Village," he said during a press conference. "I’ve talked to some of the folks on the block just now—incredibly difficult moment for people on this block to see a family literally destroyed before their very eyes. This is a very, very painful day."
This is the biggest loss of life in a New York City fire in roughly two years. There will be a full investigation by our fire marshals. pic.twitter.com/xPMjtR3jnY
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 23, 2017
He added, "It bears saying, at this moment the FDNY is going through a lot this week having lost their brother, Firefighter William Tolley, just days ago. But still the good men and women of the FDNY are doing what they do best—saving lives, protecting people, protecting neighborhoods. They came out in full force even in their moment of pain."
"We know that when we lose one of our own the community mourns with us, and today the Fire Department mourns with this community at the loss of five people in this home," Nigro said.
The man who managed to escape the house is in stable condition.