Twelve-Year-Old Boy, Woman Die in Separate House Fires

NY Post - December 04, 2017

by Khristina Narizhnaya, Tea Kvetenadze and Linda Massarella

A 12-year-old Queens boy who liked to play the trumpet and a woman in Harlem died in separate tragic fires that tore through their homes three hours apart Sunday, officials said.

The first blaze struck at 3 a.m. inside an apartment building on Ocean Promenade in Bell Harbor, where Thomas Curly lived.

Neighbors said the fire started in apartment 5C, where “TJ” lived with his family.

“There was no alarm, just the smell of smoke,” said Justin Martin, 33, who lives one floor above. “It was white, starting to get thick. I opened my window, it all shot up, hit black smoke and fire, my eyebrows almost got seared,” he said. “I worried about my mom, she’s handicapped. I kicked open my mom’s door, like ‘wake up, wake up’.”

Officials say the boy suffered severe smoke inhalation, was rushed to St. John’s Hospital, but could not be revived and died a few hours later.

“TJ was an amazing kid,” said Martin. “He looked out for my mom. He would always open the door for her.

“He played the trumpet,” Martin said. “He was a gentleman. Very well mannered. Always very well maintained. Always had a beautiful haircut. It’s really sad. They’re good people.”

The second fire erupted on the seventh floor of a 32-story building on First Avenue near E. 100th Street just before dawn.

More than 75 firefighters battled the blaze before finding a 64-year-old woman dead in her apartment. One other suffered injuries and was taken to Mt. Sinai Medical Center.

“I live on the 17th floor,” said resident Marlon Gilbert, 47. “The smell [of smoke] came through the window.”

Mohammad Rahman, 31, an airline pilot, described the smell as strong and he opened the windows and doors – but said the fire was contained to the one apartment on the seventh floor.

Rahman said he believed the woman lived with three family members.

Officials said Sunday the cause of each fire is still under investigation.

With Daniel Prendergast and Tina Moore