BELMONT, the Bronx — Four members of one family, including a 2- and 7-year-old, are among 12 people dead after a fast-moving fire ripped through a Bronx apartment building, family members said Friday.
Karen Francis, 37; Kylie Francis, 2; Kelesha Francis, 7; and Shawntay Young, 19, have been identified by a family member.
Francis is the mother of the two children, and Young is her niece, family said. Francis' husband, Hold Francis, has been hospitalized.
Young was in her aunt's fifth-floor unit when the fire broke out Thursday, family said.
Andrene Paul’s family sits huddled in a Bronx apartment, wondering how to emotionally process losing several relatives on one night – in a single fire.
“Nobody prepares for that to happen in their lifetime,” Andrene Paul said.
Two more of Andrene Paul’s relatives remain hospitalized, including her brother-in-law, Holt.
Doctors are still monitoring her pregnant daughter, who is expected to be OK.
Twelve people, including five children, died in the fire at 2363 Prospect Ave. in Belmont, making it New York City’s deadliest fire in a quarter century, officials said.
Of the 12, seven were females and five were males, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
A 1-year-old girl and 63-year-old woman who were related are among the dead, a police source said.
The ages and identities of the other victims have not yet been released.
Perhaps most frustrating, Andrene Paul said, is the fact fire officials say it was caused by a toddler – left unattended in his family’s kitchen.
The fire was started by a 3-year-old boy with a history of playing with oven burners, Nigro said.
The boy's mother managed to run out of the apartment with him and another toddler, but left the door open, causing flames to spread up through the stairway, according to Nigro.
Andrene added, “It’s difficult to wrap your head around that carelessness like that we lost so many people from our family in one shot. One day, one time.”
Fire crews arrived in a little more than three minutes, but some victims were already dead. Five people, including a child, were found dead inside the building, Nigro said.
A combination of smoke and burns caused the deaths, he added.
About 170 firefighters responded to the blaze at the five-story, walk-up apartment building, officials said.
Four people are in critical condition and continue to fight for their lives, Nigro said Friday.
Because of the number of lives lost, Nigro called the fire, "historic in its magnitude."
Andrene Paul’s family has set up a GoFundMe.com page to assist with the cost of transporting the bodies of her four – possibly five - relatives back to their native Jamaica, in addition to assisting with burial costs.
If you are interested in making a contribution, you can find their page here: