An unattended 3-year-old boy playing with a stove caused the fire that claimed the lives of 12 people in the borough's Belmont neighborhood. It was the deadliest fire in New York City in more than 25 years, officials said, and left at least 14 families homeless.
“I want the mother and father to be responsible because the mother is an irresponsible parent,” Kadian Blake, cousin of victim Karen Stewart, told the Post. “There needs to be accountability.”
Blake spoke to the paper at a candle-lit vigil held outside the gutted apartment building at 2363 Prospect Ave. on Monday, adding that the toddler was often seen wandering outside the apartment building.
The child’s mother said in the aftermath of last week's fire that her son had a history of playing with the stove in his family’s first-floor apartment, Reuters reported.
The blaze quickly swept from the family’s apartment through the five-story building, which housed 26 apartments. The fire was fanned by tenants opening windows and leaving doors open as they tried to escape.
“Children starting fires is not rare,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said on Friday, adding that the stairway “acted like a chimney. People had very little time to react. They couldn’t get back down the stairs. Those that tried perished.”