The fire that killed a family of six in Harlem early Wednesday was caused by an unattended stove, and no smoke detector was found at the apartment, FDNY said.
Fire officials shared photographs from inside of the charred apartment inside the Frederick Samuel Houses, which is a city-owned building. The fire started at the stove, where something was being cooked, and spread to the rest of the apartment, trapping family members in two rooms. The adult victims were identified as Andrea Pollidore, 45, her 33-year-old stepson Matt Abdularaph. Four of Andrea’s children also perished in the blaze. They were identified as Nakaira Pollidore, 11, Andre Pollidore, 8, Brooklyn Pollidore, 6, and Elijah Pollidore, 3.
Andrea Pollidore is believed to have previously removed the apartment’s smoke detectors, and may have fallen asleep while the stovetop burner was lit, according to the NY Post.
NYCHA officials said the apartment’s smoke alarm had been tested and was working in January. Neighbors said Andrea Pollidore was known to disable the smoke alarms while cooking, and no alarms were heard during Wednesday’s blaze, the Post reported.
Fire officials responded to the fifth floor apartment around 1:40 a.m. Wednesday and attempted to extinguish the flames for about an hour before they were able to get it under control. FDNY said it had 100 firefighters on the scene.
The family leaves behind Pollidore’s 27-year-old daughter, Raven Reyes, who wasn’t in the apartment when the fire broke out. She told The Daily News the tragedy was “devastating.”
“I’m one of my mom’s oldest kids. All my little brothers and sisters, my mom, and even my step brother passed away,” Reyes told the Daily News. “They were all good people. My little brothers and sisters, they just were perfect. They were amazing…. It’s still devastating. And to think, Mother’s Day is this weekend.”
Following the tragedy Mayor Bill de Blasio said, as a father, the family’s death was painful.
“It’s horrible to look at, and as a father just thinking … that [Tuesday] evening four children went to bed and they’re gone now is very, very painful,”de Blasio said.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro expressed the FDNY’s grief over the loss of life.
“We’re in the lifesaving business and we take this very personally when we’re unable to save this family.”