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Bronx fire victims' funeral draws huge outpouring of grief

Apartment Building Fire
Posted at 3:04 PM, Jan 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-16 18:04:58-05

NEW YORK (AP) — A Bronx community is paying its final respects to loved ones, a week after a fire filled a high-rise apartment building with thick, suffocating smoke that killed 17 people, including six children.

Earlier in the week, burial services were held for two children at a mosque in Harlem.

The mass funeral at the Islamic Cultural Center culminated a week of prayers and mourning within a close-knit community with ties to the west African country of Gambia.

In all, 17 people died in the fire, which authorities said was sparked by a faulty space heater in a third-floor apartment. Among the dead were eight children as young as 2, whose tiny caskets underscored the day’s loss.

All of those who lost their lives collapsed and were overcome by smoke while trying to descend the building’s stairwell.

Some residents said space heaters were sometimes needed to supplement the building’s heat, and apartment repairs weren’t always done in a timely fashion — if at all.

New York Attorney General Letitia James vowed to investigate, saying “there were conditions in that building that should have been corrected.”

The investigation into the fire is ongoing.