Members of the Muslim-American community in the Bronx, where several Muslim-Americans died in an apartment building fire on January 9, organized to provide support and donations to the residents.
The fire claimed the lives of at least 17 Muslim Americans of West African descent. Eight of the victims were under the age of the age of eighteen. Their Islamic funeral will be performed at the Islamic Cultural Center of the Bronx on January 16.
“The smoke alarms were going off, but no one took it seriously because they go off all the time,” Bintou Kamara, 14, told Arab News.
Kamara, a student at Harlem Prep High School, has lived with her family at 333 East 181st Street since she was a child.
Until they heard shouts for aid and sirens, Amara and her family assumed the fire was coming from a nearby apartment building.
“We heard people shouting for aid,” says the narrator. “We understood it was our house because we saw firefighters,” Kamara explained.
“We grabbed a scarf and waved it outdoors, crying ‘help, help.'” It took them about an hour or two to arrive at our location. “We were on the 12th floor,” says the narrator.
The fire was triggered by a defective electric space heater, according to fire officials.
“The heat is on at times and off at others. As a result, every person in this building has a heater. “Everyone has a heater in this building,” Kamara told Arab News.
“No one wants to freeze.” Winter has arrived. It’s chilly outside. In my room, I have a heater. My mother owns a space heater. Everyone has a heater in their home. None of this would have happened if the building was just supplying heat — if they were just doing their jobs.”
The fires did not spread throughout the building, according to New York fire officials. Instead, thick black smoke enveloped the stairwells and crept into the apartments, obstructing the only fire exit and resulting in multiple deaths and illnesses.
According to Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, the smoke spread fast throughout the building due to an apparent malfunction of the doors in front of the building and on the 15th floor.
The front door of the apartment and a door on the 15th floor should have been self-closing and prevented the spread of smoke, according to Nigro, but the doors remained fully open. It was unclear if the doors had been disabled manually or had failed mechanically.
Residents told Arab News that faults within the apartment building are not unusual. Bintou’s older sister, Fatoumatta Kamara, said they had problems with leaky sinks, peeling paint, and cockroaches.

 

“Usually when you tell the landlord something, it’s either not mended properly or it damages soon or they don’t come for a long time, so you have to keep filing for the same complaint on specific household issues,” Fatoumatta, a 19-year-old Fordham University student, said. She predicted that the family will eventually perform repairs themselves after growing tired of long waits.
Many families are still living in hotels or with other family members nearly a week after the fire, with little communication from the building’s landlord. Victims’ relatives have filed a class action lawsuit demanding $1 billion in damages from the building owners, city officials, and state officials.
Despite the fact that the apartment where the fire occurred had various faults, Bintou and Fatoumatta expressed gratitude for the community they had formed over the years.
The 120-unit structure is mostly occupied by low-income people of various backgrounds, including Muslim immigrants with West African ancestry. The building is within a 15-mile radius of many mosques, which instantly mobilized to assist the building’s residents.
Several automobiles double parked outside Masjid ar-Rahman, a local mosque, late Thursday night. Hundreds of donated products were sorted into several bags by several volunteers inside: toiletries, snacks, men’s and women’s shoes, men’s and women’s shirts, baby’s clothes, boys’ clothes, and girls’ clothes.
“After we sort through them, we either have family members of people who reside in the building come in and pick up any new items right away, or we send some to the hotels,” Jenabu Simaha, 24, explained.
Another mosque in the region, Masjid al-Taqwa, collected monetary donations for the families, while Masjid al-Fawzaan set up a donation drop-off place. The majority of the products are brand new.
“The community has given us a lot of comfort,” Simaha remarked. “Not just the Muslim community, but also the Bronx community.” We’ve had a lot of different volunteers and community people from this area come in and help.”

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