Red Roses and Teddy Bears at Vigil for Harlem Family Killed in Fire

NY Daily News - May 11, 2019

Red roses and stuffed animals lined the fence outside P.S. 194 in Harlem where two blocks away four children, their mother and her stepson were killed in a fire Wednesday. Mourners lit votive candles for mother Andrea Pollidore, 45, and her stepson Matt Abdularaph, 32. Teachers and classmates of Brooklyn, 6, Andre, 8, and Nakiyra, 11, left hundreds of notes for their lost friends. Friends left Honeybun pastries for Elijah, 3. “I love you Honeybun,” read a note on the fence referring to Elijah’s nickname and favorite snack.

A few dozen relatives and friends made their way to the three older children’s school near the scene of the fifth-floor fatal apartment fire in the Housing Authority’s Frederick E. Samuel Houses in Harlem. The children’s aunt and Andrea’s sister Kendra Pollidore-Mulzac thanked those in attendance. Andrea Pollidore’s daughter Raven Reyes remained silent while being comforted by friends and family.

“As you can imagine everyone is still in complete and utter shock,” said Pollidore-Mulzac. “We just ask that you would continue to keep us in your prayers, for the days, months to come. Every time one of the kids cross your mind, just pray for us. Nakaira, Andre, Brooklyn, Elijah, Nadine, god bless y’all, we love y’all.”

The FDNY determined the fire was accidental, and was caused by unattended cooking. Tenants who escaped the fire heard no fire alarms ringing, nor did firefighters working their way through the smoke, witnesses and officials said. Christina Daverne, the mother of Brooklyn’s friend and classmate Miracle said her daughter saw the fire’s destruction from her bedroom window across the street the following morning.

“'Mommy, that’s Brooklyn’s house,'” said Miracle, according to Daverne. “She couldn’t sleep at all last night. She cried every time she heard a noise.” P.S. 194 is providing therapists to speak with devastated classmates of the three older children.

“It hits so close to everybody because Harlem’s a community-type area,” said Daverne.

Senator Brian Benjamin vowed to help with the family’s funeral and with relocating tenants who have been displaced. “We come together in times of crisis and tragedy, and so we’re gonna do everything we can to be supportive when this happens," said Benjamin.